A Cross-National Analysis of the Effects of Minimum Wages on Youth Employment

David Neumark, William Wascher

NBER Working Paper No. 7299
Issued in August 1999
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies, Children

We estimate the employment effects of changes in national minimum wages using a pooled cross-section time-series data set comprising sixteen OECD countries for the period 1975-1997. We pay particular attention to the impact of cross-country differences in minimum wage systems and in other labor market institutions and policies that may either reduce or amplify the effects of minimum wages. Overall, our results generally are consistent with the view that minimum wages cause employment losses among youth. However, the evidence also suggests that the employment effects of minimum wages vary considerably across countries. Disemployment effects of minimum wages appear to be smaller when there are subminimum wages for youths, while, in the longer run at least, minimum wages set by collective bargaining may entail more deleterious employment effects. We also find that government policies restricting employers' ability to adjust nonpecuniary characteristics of jobs (such as hours restrictions or work rules) tend to exacerbate the negative effects of minimum wages on youth employment, while countries with active labor market policies designed to bring non-employed individuals into the work force tend to exhibit smaller disemployment effects from minimum wages.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7299

Published: Neumark, David and William Wascher. "Minimum Wages, Labor Market Institutions, And Youth Employment: A Cross-National Analysis," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2004, v57(2,Jan), 223-248.

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