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Company wage policy in a low-wage labor market

Giulia Giupponi and Stephen Machin ()

CEP Discussion Papers from Centre for Economic Performance, LSE

Abstract: The question of how firms set wages for their employees has been of longstanding interest. In this paper, we investigate what models of wage determination are at play in a low-wage labor market. We exploit a sizable and salient age-specific minimum wage change in the United Kingdom - the National Living Wage (NLW) introduction. Starting in April 2016, the NLW raised the minimum wage rate applying to workers aged 25 and over, leaving unchanged the minimum wage rates for younger workers. Using matched employer-employee data on the English residential care home sector, we document positive wage spillovers on workers aged under 25. Younger workers' wages are shown to have risen in tandem with those of older workers, with no differential employment effects by age at both the market level and the firm level. We probe the inter- vs intra-firm nature of wage spillovers and show that they arise within rather than between firms. Based on empirical tests and qualitative evidence from a survey of care homes in the sample, pay-equity concerns offer the most plausible explanation for the emergence of wage spillovers. The wage spillover effects that we document are shown to emerge in other low-paying sectors of the UK labor market.

Keywords: wage determination; minimum wage; fairness; Wages (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-09-13
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur
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