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Synergies in Labour Market Institutions: the Nonlinear Effect of Minimum Wages on Youth Employment

Adam Brzezinski ()
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Adam Brzezinski: University of Oxford

Atlantic Economic Journal, 2017, vol. 45, issue 2, 251-263

Abstract: Abstract Empirical evidence on the effect of minimum wages on youth employment is inconclusive, with studies pointing to negative, positive or insignificant effects. In trying to explain some of the conflicting evidence, this research paper examines synergies of minimum wages with other labour market institutions using an unbalanced panel dataset of 19 OECD countries over 1985–2013. Institutions that enforce labour market rigidity, such as unemployment benefits and union density, are found to exacerbate the negative effect of minimum wages on youth employment, while government expenditure on training programmes for the unemployed dampen it. This finding of significant synergy effects indicates that panel data models which omit interactive terms between minimum wages and institutions might be misspecified. In addition, the analysis suggests that the negative effect of minimum wages is most severe in rigid labour markets with high unemployment benefits and union density. Therefore, policymakers need to consider the full spectrum of institutions they face before adjusting minimum wages.

Keywords: Minimum wages; Institutions; Policy complementarities; Youth employment; J20; J38; J48; J58; J65 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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