Setting the minimum wage
The process leading to the setting of the minimum wage so far has been overlooked by economists. There are two common ways of setting national minimum wages: they are either government legislated or the byproduct of collective bargaining agreements, which are extended erga omnes to all workers. We develop a simple model relating the level of the minimum wage to the setting regime. Next, we exploit a new data set on minimum wages in 68 countries having a statutory national minimum level of pay in the period 1981–2005. We find that a Government legislated minimum wage is lower than a wage floor set within collective agreements. This effect survives to several robustness checks and can be interpreted as a causal effect of the setting regime on the level of the minimum wage. âº Theory and data indicate that the setting of the minimum wage matters. âº A wage floor set by the Government is lower than one set within collective bargaining. âº This holds under a broad set of circumstances: institutional variables also matter. âº Data on 68 countries point to sizeable premium of bargained over legislated minimum wages. âº This premium can be interpreted as a causal effect of the fixing regime on levels.