Measuring the Impact of Living Wage Laws: A Critical Appraisal of David Neumark's How Living Wage Laws Affect Low-Wage Workers and Low-Income Families

PERI Working Paper No. 43

48 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2003

See all articles by Mark D. Brenner

Mark D. Brenner

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics

Jeannette Wicks-Lim

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics

Robert Pollin

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

Drawing on data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), David Neumark (2002) finds that living wage laws have brought substantial wage increases for a high proportion of workers in cities that have passed these laws. He also finds that living wage laws significantly reduce employment opportunities for low-wage workers. We argue, first, that by truncating his sample to concentrate his analysis on low-wage workers, Neumark's analysis is vulnerable to sample selection bias, and that his results are not robust to alternative specifications that utilize quantile regression to avoid such selection bias. In addition, we argue that Neumark has erroneously utilized the CPS data set to derive these results. We show that, with respect to both wage and employment effects, Neumark's results are not robust to more accurate alternative classifications as to which workers are covered by living wage laws. We also show that the wage effects that Neumark observes for all U.S. cities with living wage laws can be more accurately explained as resulting from effects on sub-minimum wage workers in Los Angeles alone of a falling unemployment rate and rising minimum wage in that city.

Suggested Citation

Brenner, Mark D. and Wicks-Lim, Jeannette and Pollin, Robert, Measuring the Impact of Living Wage Laws: A Critical Appraisal of David Neumark's How Living Wage Laws Affect Low-Wage Workers and Low-Income Families (2002). PERI Working Paper No. 43, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=341762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.341762

Mark D. Brenner (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

Amherst, MA 01003
United States

Jeannette Wicks-Lim

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

Amherst, MA 01003
United States

Robert Pollin

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - College of Social and Behavioral Sciences - Department of Economics ( email )

940 Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
413-577-0126 (Phone)

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