The Empirical Record Improves

by Don Boudreaux on August 13, 2015

in Work

Two weeks ago I first made public the offer of my friend Mike Long – a successful businessman in California – to supply business advice free of charge to those academics who, asserting that low-skilled workers are generally underpaid in America, are willing to put their money where their mouths are by starting businesses that would seize these alleged profit opportunities.  No one has yet come forward to take advantage of Mike’s generous offer.

Although the offer will remain open indefinitely, I’m shocked – shocked! – that none of the many academics who so confidently and repeatedly assert that low-skilled workers are generally underpaid have yet come forward to seize a golden opportunity that will enrich both these academics and the workers for whom these academics express magnanimous concern.  What explains this combination of confident assertions of available profit opportunities (namely, legions of workers currently producing $X per hour but being paid less than $X per hour) and the utter lack of interest in seizing these opportunities?

Can it be that these pro-minimum-wage academics are simply engaged in cheap talk?  Yes.  Yes, I think it can be so.  These academics – who proclaim their especial devotion to empirical reality – give by their own actions powerful empirical evidence against the proposition that low-skilled workers are generally underpaid.  These academics’ consistent and unanimous failure to risk anything of their own on actions that would be profitable were these academics’ claims about reality truly valid is solid evidence that these academics’ claims about reality are in fact invalid.

Those of us who oppose minimum-wage legislation now have solid empirical evidence that low-skilled workers in America are in fact not generally underpaid.  This evidence is the unanimous refusal by those who say that they believe that low-skilled workers are underpaid actually to do what such a belief would lead someone who is confident in his or her belief to do.

Being a data-driven scholar, I conclude that the empirical record shows that low-skilled workers in America are generally not underpaid – a fact that means that minimum-wage legislation does in fact harm many low-skilled workers.


Add a Comment    Share Share    Print    Email

Previous post:

Next post: