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The impact of the regulation of low wages on inequality and labour-market adjustment: A comparative analysis

Опубликовано на портале: 15-12-2002
Oxford Review of Economic Policy. .  Vol. 16. No. 1. P. 57-69. 
In all continental European countries there exist non-market mechanisms that determine or regulate wage rates for the low-paid. The experience of three countries that have national minimum wages - France, Belgium, and the Netherlands - and three where low wage rates are determined through widespread collective bargaining - Germany, Italy, and Denmark, are considered. It is found that overall there is less inequality (both wage and income) and less poverty than in the UK and the US, where low wages are less regulated. Furthermore, patterns of labor-market adjustment - employment, unemployment, and gross job flows - vary greatly, suggesting that there is no one-to-one mapping between the presence of mechanisms to regulate low wages and labor-market performance. Furthermore, wage shares have been falling since the early 1980s. It is therefore difficult to attribute high and persistent rates of unemployment found in certain countries to the existence of mechanisms to regulate low wages.