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The Effects of Higher Minimum Wages on Welfare Recipiency


  • Mark D. Turner


In his State of the Union Address, President Clinton again called for an increase in the federal minimum wage in two 50-cent increments, from $5.15 to $6.15 per hour. Once again business groups and some economists argue that raising the minimum wage hinders the employment prospects of low-skilled workers. Not surprisingly, most welfare recipients are low-skilled (Ellwood, 1986). Some contend that raising the minimum wage impedes welfare-to-work transitions. Alternatively, others argue that higher minimum wages draw women off welfare into employment. This study examines the relationship between minimum wage increases and welfare recipiency. Using the 1990 and 1991 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), I examine the effect a minimum wage increase would have on welfare participation at a point in time (static models), and use discrete time hazard models (dynamic models) to assess whether higher minimum wages affect the propensity of exiting and of re-entering Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the predecessor to Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). The main independent variable, effective minimum wage (defined as the higher of state and federal minimum wages) varies over time and across states. Controlling for an array of factors, static models predict that a 50-cent minimum wage increase would reduce welfare participation by 1.3 percentage points, resulting in 41,000 fewer single mothers receiving welfare. Dynamic models predict that the higher minimum wage would increase welfare exit rates by 2.5 percentage points and would have no effect on former welfare recipients' chances of re-entering welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark D. Turner, 1999. "The Effects of Higher Minimum Wages on Welfare Recipiency," JCPR Working Papers 95, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:95

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alison J. Wellington, 1991. "Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment Status of Youths: An Update," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 27-46.
    2. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    3. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1995. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Teenage Employment and Enrollment: Evidence from Matched CPS Surveys," NBER Working Papers 5092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 2000. "Local Labor Markets And Welfare Spells: Do Demand Conditions Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 351-368, August.
    5. Brown, Charles & Gilroy, Curtis & Kohen, Andrew, 1982. "The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Employment and Unemployment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 487-528, June.
    6. Marianne E. Page & Joanne Spetz & Jane Millar, 2005. "Does the minimum wage affect welfare caseloads?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 273-295.
    7. repec:mes:challe:v:26:y:1984:i:6:p:54-58 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Blank, Rebecca M., 1989. "Analyzing the length of welfare spells," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 245-273, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marianne E. Page & Joanne Spetz & Jane Millar, 2005. "Does the minimum wage affect welfare caseloads?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 273-295.

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