Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 2 No. 3 (Summer 1988)


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Minimum Wage Laws: Are They Overrated?

Article Citation

Brown, Charles. 1988. "Minimum Wage Laws: Are They Overrated?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2(3): 133-145.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.2.3.133


I think there is a reasonably high degree of agreement in studies of the impact of the minimum wage on employment, unemployment, and the distribution of income -- though I will also point to a few areas where further work could refine our understanding of labor markets, and perhaps even change the prevailing view of the impact of the minimum wage. I consider the textbook minimum wage theory; complications of partial coverage and heterogeneous workers; the estimated impact on employment and unemployment; whether there should be a lower wage for teenagers; and the effect of the minimum wage on the income distribution. In the end, what have we learned? The effects of the minimum wage on employment are smaller than I would have supposed. The minimum wage is overrated: by its critics as well as its supporters.

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Brown, Charles (Unlisted)

JEL Classifications

822: Wages and Hours


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