The Dignity of the Minimum Wage?

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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2 Responses

  1. AF says:

    I’m not sure you have fairly characterized the state of the debate over the minimum wage among economists. There seems to be something close to a consensus that (1) small increases in the minimum wage have either small or no effects on employment, and (2) very large increases in the minimum wage would have large effects on employment. To be sure, a debate remains over whether small increases have small negative effects or no negative effects. But as far as I know, very few economists argue that small increases (which are all that are ever proposed on a state or federal level) would have strongly negative effects, and very few argue that large minimum-wage increases would be benign.

    It’s true that this state of affairs is not communicated clearly in public debates, but I’m not sure how much that matters. The key feature of the political debates over minimum wage is that since the federal minimum wage is not inflation indexed, both sides can have their way. Liberals can raise the minimum wage from time to time, while conservatives can keep it from rising in real terms.

  2. IP prof says:

    “Indeed, the fact that minimum wage laws increase unemployment can be a good thing, as the jobs lost will not always be worth saving.”

    The author’s implicit assumption seems to be that there is more dignity in receiving an unemployment check than in performing certain types of jobs. I question whether this is a widely shared belief – I don’t think that liberals who favor a higher minimum wage would get much traction with this argument.