Scott Sumner Has Some Data on Minimum-Wage Legislation

by Don Boudreaux on November 17, 2013

in Reality Is Not Optional, Seen and Unseen, Work

Here are the concluding paragraphs from this post (footnote added):

Regarding minimum wage,* here is some data for Western Europe:

There are nine countries with a minimum wage (Belgium, Netherlands, Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Luxembourg).  Their unemployment rates range from 5.9% in Luxembourg to 27.6% in Greece.  The median country is France with 11.1% unemployment.

There are nine countries with no minimum wage (Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland.)  Five of the nine have a lower unemployment rate than Luxembourg, the best of the other group.  The median country is Iceland, with a 5.5% unemployment rate. The biggest country in Europe is Germany.  No minimum wage and 5.2% unemployment.

Still want to raise our minimum wage to $10?  Germany used to have really high unemployment.  Then they did labor reforms to allow more low wage jobs, combined with subsidies for low wage workers.  Now they don’t have high unemployment.

Still want to raise our minimum wage to $10?

(HT Zachary Bartsch)

Astute readers will note not only the interesting relative cross-country rates of unemployment, but also the fact that western Europe – western Europe! (including countries in Scandinavia!) – has several countries without a legislated minimum wage.

* That is, legislation that makes unlawful the employment of workers whose hourly productivity is below some minimum level arbitrarily dictated by government officials.

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