The Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment and Earnings of Youth

Robert H. Meyer, David A. Wise

NBER Working Paper No. 849
Issued in 1982
NBER Program(s):   LS

The employment and earnings effects of the minimum wage are estimated by parameterizing an hypothesized relationship between underlying market employment and wage relationships versus observed wage and employment distributions in the presence of a legislated minimum. If there had been no minimum during the 1973-78 period, we estimate that employment among out- of-school men 16 to 24 would have been approximately 4 percent higher than it in fact was. Among young men 16 to 19 employment would have been about 7 percent higher and among those 20 to 24, 2 percent higher. Employment among black youth 16 to 24 would have been almost 6 percent higher than it was, as compared with somewhat less than 4 percent for white youth. Although it is sometimes argued that the adverse employment effects of the minimum are offset by increased earnings, we find virtually no earnings effect. Had the minimum not been raised over the 1973-78 period, inflation would have greatly moderated the adverse employment effects of the minimum, with approximately two-thirds of the potential employment gains from elimination of the minimum attained. The weight of our evidence is inconsistent with a general increase in youth wage rates with increases in the real minimum. Our findings support the hypothesis that the effects of the minimum are concentrated on youth with sub-minimum market wage rates.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0849

Published: Meyer, Robert H. and David A. Wise. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage on the Employment and Earnings of Youth." Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 1, ( 1983), pp. 66-100. citation courtesy of

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