The Labor Market Impact of Federal Regulation: OSHA, ERISA, EEO, and Minimum Wage
This paper critically evaluates the contribution of labor economics and industrial relations research to our understanding of the impact of government labor market regulation. Recent theoretical and empirical literature is analyzed for four major policies: (a) workplace safety and health; (b) employer-provided pensions; (c) minimums; and (d) employment and pay practices with regard to women and minorities. Studies on EEO and OSHA reforms find small but positive impacts on the outcomes they sought to alter: the minimum wage literature indicates low skilled workers were not benefited much by wage floors; and as yet no analysis exists on whether ERISA improved pension security. Directions for future analysis are suggested, including the role of research in policymaking, whether and how regulatory policy affects labor productivity, and the distributional impact of different forms of regulation on various labor market groups.