Hyunbae Chun, Kyoji Fukao, Hyeog Ug Kwon, Jungsoo Park, 06 September 2021

In many developed countries, real wage growth has lagged behind labour productivity growth in recent decades. This column uses data from Japan and Korea to study the relationship between labour productivity growth, real wage growth, and labour’s terms of trade, defined as the ratio of the consumer price index to the GDP deflator. It shows that the main reason for the real wage-labour productivity growth gap is a large decline in labour’s terms of trade. Raising real wages in the future will require policies to support the business environment and develop high value-added sectors. 

Keisuke Kondo, 14 January 2020

Increasing productivity is a top priority challenge for the Japanese economy under the current population decline, and the idea of raising the minimum wage in order to spur productivity growth has piqued interest among policymakers. This column suggests two ways in which firms may respond to a minimum wage hike: some may carry out reforms to increase productivity in response to the hike, while other less-productive firms may exit the market. The overall effect on productivity will vary across countries and firms, since the relative strength of these two effects depends on a country’s firms’ characteristics and market structure.

Hiroko Okudaira, Miho Takizawa, Kenta Yamanouchi, 24 September 2019

Studies often find an aggregated near-zero employment effect when increasing the minimum wage. But the effects might vary if local employers in different regions have different market power. The column examines increases in the minimum wage in Japan and finds a more pronounced negative employment effect in local labour markets where employers had less control over wages.

Michael Reich, 23 August 2019

The US has an epidemic of "deaths of despair". Michael Reich tells Tim Phillips that new research implies that a $15 minimum wage doesn't just cut poverty, it also saves lives. But is Congress listening?

William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Chris Lowenstein, Michael Reich, 07 July 2019

Policymakers and researchers have sought to understand the causes of and effective policy responses to recent increases in mortality due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide in the US. This column examines the role of the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit – the two most important policy levers for raising incomes for low-wage workers – as tools to combat these trends. It finds that both policies significantly reduce non-drug suicides among adults without a college degree, and that the effect is stronger among women. The findings point to the role of economic policies as important determinants of health. 

Richard Blundell, 22 March 2019

Richard Blundell of University College London discusses the use of microdata to inform policy.

Amanda Agan, Michael Makowsky, 10 November 2018

Individuals with a criminal record face difficulties in the labour market that can compel them to reoffend. This column reveals how increases in the minimum wage in the US reduce the likelihood of recently released felons being reincarcerated, while an income-related tax subsidy has a similar effect for women, but not men. The results suggest significant welfare benefits from policiesthat help raise wages above the potential income from criminal activity.

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Duncan Roth, Tobias Seidel, 04 September 2018

While there is a large and controversial literature on the implications of minimum wages for employment and the distribution of income, little is known about the consequences across regions. This column describes how the implementation of a minimum wage in Germany in 2015 has raised incomes in the lower part of the wage distribution without affecting employment of low-wage workers. However, there is no clear evidence that the minimum wage has led to a net in-migration or out-migration in poorer German counties.

Giulia Giupponi, Stephen Machin, 11 August 2018

In 2016 the National Living Wage in the UK raised the minimum hourly wage for workers aged 25 and over. The column uses data from English care homes to analyse the impact of this policy, finding that the main non-wage effect has been a deterioration in quality of care. Younger colleagues also received wage rises, which seems to reflect a preference for fairness among employers.

Michael Bar, Moshe Hazan, Oksana Leukhina, David Weiss, Hosny Zoabi, 13 January 2018

Over recent decades, the trend for high-skilled, career-focused women to have fewer children, if any at all, has reversed. Using US data, this column shows that rising wage inequality is behind the reversal. Greater income inequality enables high-income families to outsource household production to lower-income people. Changes to minimum wage laws are thus likely to affect the fertility and career decisions of the rich.

David Neumark, 09 October 2017

Studies of the employment effects of minimum wages have been wide-ranging, but a consensus proves elusive. This column summarises the existing literature and proposes some key questions to better inform policy in the context of minimum wages across different states in the US. Future areas for research should include understanding why different approaches yield different answers, as well as a recognition that there is not one minimum wage effect, but several across different contexts.

Sandra Black, Jason Furman, Laura Giuliano, Wilson Powell, 02 December 2016

Over the past three years, 18 states plus the District of Columbia have implemented minimum wage increases, joining ten other states that have raised their minimum wages at least once since the last Federal increase in 2009. This column examines the impact of the more recent state increases on wages, weekly earnings, and employment among workers in the low-wage leisure and hospitality Industry. A comparison with states with no minimum wage increase since 2009 suggests that the recent legislation contributed to substantial wage increases with no discernible impact on employment levels or hours worked.

Harald Hau, Yi Huang, Gewei Wang, 17 October 2016

Business book writers claim that management quality of some type matters when creating successful firms. But this conventional wisdom has largely defied serious empirical analysis. This column looks at statistical evidence on the productivity response of Chinese firms to minimum wage shocks, and finds that better-managed firms adapt better to adverse competitive shocks. This suggests that management quality matters for this type of adaptability

George Wehby, Dhaval Dave, Robert Kaestner, 26 September 2016

Despite ample research on the effects of minimum wage increases on employment, there has been little consensus on the effects of such increases on workers’ broader welfare, and in particular on their health and that of their families. This column analyses comprehensive data from the US on the effects of minimum wage increases on the health of children born to low-income workers. It finds that the increases have a significant positive impact on birth weights. This has important policy implications, with infant health acting as a reliable indicator of future health.

Denis Fougère, Erwan Gautier, Sébastien Roux, 28 May 2016

In light of the Eurozone Crisis, some countries have implemented reforms to collective wage bargaining institutions, which can be responsible for wage rigidities that are problematic in the face of rising unemployment. This column describes collective wage bargaining in France and how national minimum wage increases are transmitted to wage floors set by industry-level agreements. An increase in the national minimum wage leads to an increase in negotiated industry-level wage floors, which firms then use as references for their wage policy. This might partly explain why French base wages have continued to increase despite recent rising unemployment.

Wouter den Haan, Martin Ellison, Ethan Ilzetzki, Michael McMahon, Ricardo Reis, 31 March 2016

A new National Living Wage (NLW) replaces the UK’s National Minimum Wage from April. This column reports the views of leading experts on its likely effects on employment, wages, and prices. A majority of respondents in the monthly Centre for Macroeconomics survey believe that the NLW will not lead to significantly lower employment; similarly, a majority of respondents believe that the NLW will only have a muted effect on wages and prices. The key unknown for many in considering the overall economic impact of the NLW is how quickly the UK economy will grow over the coming years.

Daniel Aaronson, Eric French, Isaac Sorkin, 19 March 2016

Economists these days tend to think that a minimum wage can be a useful policy tool for reducing poverty while leaving employment numbers intact, as long as the policy is well designed. This column looks at recent evidence from a new perspective and claims that much of the recent research suggesting that minimum wage hikes barely reduce the number of jobs in the short run should be taken with caution. The longer-run disemployment effects are potentially large.  

Jeffrey Clemens, Michael Wither, 14 January 2015

The merit of a minimum wage is a classic issue of contention in economics and is of particular interest during a contraction. This column uses worker-level microdata to investigate the effect of a federal policy change in the US that affected some states more than others. The authors evaluate not only the proximate effects on employment, but also follow workers for up to three years afterward to track career trajectory following a minimum wage hike.

Coen Teulings, 15 June 2014

Income inequality has increased worldwide in recent years. This column discusses the role of technological progress, globalisation, and the liberalisation of labour-market institutions in this growing inequality. The liberalisation of labour market institutions has made labour markets more flexible and created many jobs. But beyond a certain point, the net effect of further liberalisation might be negative for society.



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