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Impacts of minimum wages: a microdata analysis for the German construction sector

Marion König (Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of the German Federal Employment Agency, Nuremberg, Germany)
Joachim Möller (Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of the German Federal Employment Agency, Nuremberg, Germany)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 13 November 2009

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Abstract

Purpose

In 1997 minimum wages were introduced in the West and East German construction sector. The purpose of this paper is to analyze their impact on wage growth and employment retention probability of affected workers.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a difference‐in‐differences approach the paper proposes a method to identify the effects of this quasi‐experiment despite the lack of information on working hours in the large panel microdata. The method determines the size of the treatment and control group by the maximum likelihood criterion.

Findings

All results show positive wage growth effects of the minimum wage regulation in both parts of the country. When it comes to employment effects, the results clearly differ between the two parts of the country. The employment effects are negative for East Germany and positive for West Germany, although the latter are not always statistically significant.

Research limitations/implications

Although there is a limit to the simple transferability of the results for the construction sector to other industries, the study provides some useful insights for this country concerning reactions to the minimum wage. This is the first paper analyzing the effect of minimum wages in Germany using microeconometric methods.

Practical implications

As the minimum wage in the East German construction sector was much higher in relation to the median wage than in West Germany, a tentative conclusion of the different employment results might be that the trade‐off between increasing wages for low‐paid workers and the danger of job losses does not exist in this case if minimum wages are moderate.

Originality/value

This paper provides valuable information on the impact of wage growth and employment retention probability in Germany.

Keywords

Citation

König, M. and Möller, J. (2009), "Impacts of minimum wages: a microdata analysis for the German construction sector", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 30 No. 7, pp. 716-741. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437720910997362

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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