NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Trade and Minimum Wages in General Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence

Xue Bai, Arpita Chatterjee, Kala Krishna, Hong Ma

NBER Working Paper No. 24456
Issued in March 2018
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment Program

Do minimum wages affect economic outcomes beyond low-skill employment? This paper develops a new model with heterogeneous firms under perfect competition in a Heckscher-Ohlin setting to show that a binding minimum wage raises product prices, encourages substitution away from labor, and creates unemployment. It reduces output and exports of the labor intensive good, despite higher prices and, less obviously, selection in the labor (capital) intensive sector becomes stricter (weaker). Exploiting rich regional variation in minimum wages across Chinese prefectures and using Chinese Customs data matched with firm level production data, we find robust evidence in support of causal effects of minimum wage consistent with our theoretical predictions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24456

 
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