Minimum Wages and Their Alternatives: A Critical Assessment

31 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2008

See all articles by Andreas Knabe

Andreas Knabe

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg - Institute of Economics and Business Administration; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Ronnie Schöb

Freie Universitaet Berlin; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: December 2008

Abstract

Do minimum wages reduce in-work-poverty and wage inequality? Or can alternative policies do better? We evaluate theses issues for the exemplary case of Germany that suffers from high unemployment among low-skilled workers and rising wage dispersion at the bottom of the wage distribution. We analyze the impact of three different policy options, currently discussed in Germany, on employment, wage inequality, public expenditures, and incomes of poor households: 1) a statutory minimum wage, 2) a combination of minimum wages and wage subsidies as e.g. in France and the Netherlands, and 3) pure wage subsidies to low-paid workers. We find that a minimum wage of EUR 7.50 would cost 840,000 low-paid jobs and increase the fiscal burden by about EUR 4 billion per year, while poor households' income rises only by EUR 1.1 billion per year. With pure wage subsidies, the government can ensure more favorable employment and income effects. Combining a minimum wage with a wage subsidy turns out to be extremely costly and inferior to wage subsidies in all respects.

Keywords: statutory minimum wage, working poor, welfare system, wage subsidy

JEL Classification: H2, I3, J3

Suggested Citation

Knabe, Andreas and Schöb, Ronnie, Minimum Wages and Their Alternatives: A Critical Assessment (December 2008). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2494. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1314714

Andreas Knabe

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg - Institute of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Universitaetsplatz 2
Magdeburg, 39016
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Ronnie Schöb (Contact Author)

Freie Universitaet Berlin ( email )

Boltzmannstraße 20
Berlin, Berlin 14195
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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