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Do Minimum Wages Really Reduce Teen Employment? Accounting for Heterogeneity and Selectivity in State Panel Data

  • Author(s): Allegretto, Sylvia
  • Dube, Arindrajit
  • Reich, Michael
  • et al.
Abstract

Traditional estimates of minimum wage effects include controls for state unemployment rates and state and year fixed-effects. Using CPS data on teens for the period 1990 – 2009, we show that such estimates fail to account for heterogeneous employment patterns that are correlated with selectivity among states with minimum wages. As a result, the estimates are often biased and vary with the source of identifying variation. Including controls for long-term growth differences among states and for heterogeneous economic shocks renders the employment and hours elasticities indistinguishable from zero and rules out any but small disemployment effects. Dynamic evidence further shows the nature of bias in traditional estimates, and it also rules out more negative long run effects. We do not find evidence of heterogeneous employment effects in different parts of the business cycle. We also consider predictable versus unpredictable changes in the minimum wage by looking at indexation of the minimum wage in some states.

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