Labor market regulation
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Labor Market Regulation. Labor Market Regulation. In the context of job danger, what is role for regulation? In other words, what kinds of regulations are likely to be “good”? What are some that might be bad?. Labor Market Regulation and Market Failures.

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Labor Market Regulation

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Labor market regulation

Labor Market Regulation


Labor market regulation1

Labor Market Regulation

  • In the context of job danger, what is role for regulation? In other words, what kinds of regulations are likely to be “good”? What are some that might be bad?


Labor market regulation and market failures

Labor Market Regulation and Market Failures

  • Think about this issue with respect to Guinea Pigging?

    • What are the current regulations? Should these be kept?

    • What new regulations might be “good” to impose?


Labor market regulation and market failures1

Labor Market Regulation and Market Failures

  • In general, laws and regulation are best used to correct or prevent “market failures”.

    • What do we mean by market failures?

    • What market failure are the OSHA laws correcting?

      • Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards

    • What sort of market failures do policies like maximum hours restrictions correct? What about minimum wage laws?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Federal minimum wage is currently $7.25/hr, but many states have their own higher minimums (which take precedent).

  • Prior to these changes, minimum wage only changed 3 times in last 25 yrs.

  • What is motivation for these laws? What are potential drawbacks?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy1

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

Potential Drawbacks:

  • Targeting

    • Looking at 1992 change,

      • Half of those affected were 16-24 (60% enrolled in school),

      • Only 20% were families living below poverty line.

  • Employment effects

    • What is the theory behind employment effects of minimum wage?

      • What are key aspects of this argument?

      • What then are key underlying assumptions?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy2

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • So where is the empirical evidence?

    • What is Kennan’s argument?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy3

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy4

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy5

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Problem: Hard to isolate the effect of one thing given all the things that are going on.

  • What would be nice is to be able to control for all of the other things that are changing and then see what just changing minimum wage would do to employment.

  • How might one try to do this?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy6

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Card and Krueger

    • Use a “natural experiment” empirical approach.

    • On April 1, 1992, NJ increased min wage to $5.05 while other states (including neighboring PA) had fed min wage of $4.25.

    • Card and Krueger collected employment data from fast food restaurants in NJ and Eastern PA in April and then again at same places in Nov and Dec.

    • What is basic “identification” intuition?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy7

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy8

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Issues in interpreting Card and Krueger

    • Are Pennsylvania fast food establishments really a good “control” group for New Jersey fast food establishments?

    • While Diff-in-Diff estimate suggests employment went up in NJ relative to PA after rise in NJ min wage, what is a concern?

    • What is short-term/longer-term distinction? Why might it be important here?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy9

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Issues in interpreting Card and Krueger

    • If we believed their findings, what theoretical story could explain them?

    • What is the hungry teenager theory? Is it plausible?


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy10

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Keil, Roberson, and Symmons (2009)

    • Take Card and Krueger’s idea to a more aggregate level.

    • Use state level data on youth employment/population ratio and state minimum wage rates and from 1976 – 2007.

    • Look to see correlation between increases in minimum wage and youth employment/population ratio.


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy11

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Keil, Robertson, and Symmons (2009)

    • Blue line shows number of states with minimum wage above Federal minimum wage (higher one takes precedence).


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy12

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Keil et al. paper


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy13

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • Lang

    • In general, employment effects must be pretty modest.

    • In 1992, about 7% of all workers earned minimum wage or below.

    • The 1992 increase in min wage increased from $3.80 to $4.25 (a 12% increase).

    • Estimates of labor demand curves suggest this should lead to a decrease in employment for low wage workers of about 6%.

    • However, since less than 10% of workers are directly affected by such an increase, we would have to find an employment effect on the order of 0.6%, which would be hard to pick up given seasonal fluctuations and other state variation.


Minimum wage laws as poverty policy14

Minimum wage laws as Poverty Policy

  • In general, studies show that min wage increases may lead to slight reductions in earnings inequality, but no studies have picked up measurable effects on poverty.

  • This is likely due to small offsetting employment effects, small wage increases associated with minimum wage increases, and the fact that much of the poor have only limited connections to labor force, due to low skills, health constraints, substance abuse problems, daycare issues, and transportation issues.


Other attempts at labor market regulation

Other Attempts at Labor Market Regulation

  • In 1991, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.

    • Law not only made it illegal to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, it also required employers to make “all reasonable” accommodations” for disabled employees.

      • This included ramps, elevators, and widened doors for wheelchairs, braille keyboards and interfaces for the blind, and audio software for the deaf

    • How might employers react to the ADA law?


Other attempts at labor market regulation1

Other Attempts at Labor Market Regulation


Labor market regulation2

Labor Market Regulation

  • In general, my take is that trying to regulate the labor market is always subject to the “no free lunch” principle.

    • Employer behavior is not static. They, more than anyone, react to changes in incentives.

    • The benefits of markets is that market forces push employers toward efficiency, or finding the cheapest way possible to produce something (which is then reflected in the price paid by consumers).

    • Hence, market forces and market regulation are generally in conflict, which will generally result in any positive impact of law on targeted group mitigated (at least to some extent) by firm reaction.

    • However, there is a clear role for market regulation in the presence of “market failures” (most often asymmetric or imperfect information).

      • Question is how to address those market failures in most efficient way.


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