Trade and Minimum Wages in General Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence
71 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018 Last revised: 29 Apr 2021
Date Written: March 2018
Do minimum wages affect economic outcomes beyond low-skill employment? This paper develops a new model with heterogeneous firms under perfect competition in a Heckscher-Ohlin setting to show that a binding minimum wage raises product prices, encourages substitution away from labor, and creates unemployment. It reduces output and exports of the labor intensive good, despite higher prices and, less obviously, selection in the labor (capital) intensive sector becomes stricter (weaker). Exploiting rich regional variation in minimum wages across Chinese prefectures and using Chinese Customs data matched with firm level production data, we find robust evidence in support of causal effects of minimum wage consistent with our theoretical predictions.
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