Economic Models and Tax Policy

Over at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative (WCI), Stephen Gordon reasonably argues that economic models can be useful for policy analysis even if they lack the predictive power needed for forecasting. He writes: A well-designed model will be able to reproduce the main features of interest of the real world. More importantly, it will also be able to reproduce the main features […]

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BC’s Minimum Wage: How high should it be?

At the BC NDP convention over the weekend, Opposition Leader Carole James reiterated calls for a $10 an hour minimum wage. While $10 an hour would certainly be better than BC’s current $8 an hour (lowest in the country), I’m concerned that this campaign is stuck on a round number not what is adequate for improving the livelihoods of the […]

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The Good Ol’ Days

My two kids are still far too young to be farmed out to earn their keep in the labour market, but when they are (in about a decade), I really hope that the value of minimum wages in Canada improves.  If not, not only are they going to have to work harder and harder to get by along with millions of others young […]

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McGuinty Backpedals on $10 Minimum Wage

Yesterday’s Ontario budget lauded the announced minimum wage increase to $10.25 per hour on March 31, 2010. Today, media reports indicate that, “following a meeting with business leaders in Ottawa,” Ontario’s Premier is reconsidering this increase. The argument seems to be that, given hard economic times, we may not be able to afford a higher minimum wage. However, if the […]

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Why Is Low Paid Work so Rare in Denmark?

As highlighted in the most recent version of the OECD Jobs Study, Denmark has recently managed to combine a very egalitarian distribution of wages and incomes with excellent employment and economic performance. The Danish “flexicurity” model gives the great majority of workers decent wages and working conditions, achieved though very high levels of unionization, very high unemployment benefits as a […]

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Sources of Rising Inequality in the US

An interesting paper: Controversies about the Rise of American Inequality: A Survey by Robert J. Gordon and Ian Dew-Becker. http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~idew/papers/BPEA_final_ineq.pdf Abstract This paper provides a comprehensive survey on six aspects of rising inequality: changes in laborfs share, inequality at the bottom, inequality at the top, labor mobility, inequality in consumption as contrasted to inequality of income, and international differences in […]

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Minimum Wage and Job Retention

In another interesting presentation on research in progress at the StatsCan conference, David Green and Pierre Brochu report that increases in minimum wages in Canada are associated with significantly longer job tenure for less educated, low job tenure workers – at least for the short-term period following the minimum wage increase. One possible implication is that employers benefit from higher […]

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Further Progress on Minimum Wage

The Government of Saskatchewan announced increases to the minimum wage today as a step forward to providing a living wage that will assist working families and young people participate in our prosperous economy. The increase will take place in three stages that will see the minimum wage move to $8.25 per hour on January 1, 2008, to $8.60 on May […]

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The Fraser Institute’s Job-Creation Strategy: Cut Wages

The Fraser Institute’s latest study of North American labour markets intends to demonstrate that public-sector employment, minimum wages, unionization, and labour laws that facilitate collective bargaining damage labour-market performance. However, its “Index of Labour Market Performance” measures the quantity of jobs with almost no regard for quality. Even this questionable index is not negatively correlated with the policies criticized by […]

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Fighting Poverty Through Municipal Wage Ordinances

Progressive municipal governments in Canada should consider developing and implementing wage ordinances to boost campaigns for higher statutory minimum wages, and to help the working poor. More than 130 municipal living wage ordinances have been passed in the US since 1994, including in many big cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San […]

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Minimum Wages Raise Productivity

The 2007 OECD Employment Outlook incorporates a study (Chapter 3) finding that higher minimum wages raise productivity. In fact, a sophisticated quantitiative study finds that an increase of 10 percentage points in the ratio of the minimum wage to the median hourly wage raises the level of labour productivity in the long-run by between 1.7 and 2.0 percentage points.  One possible explanatation cited […]

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Maryland’s Living Wage

Following the lead of several American municipalities, Maryland has become the first state to mandate a “living wage” for government contractors. Larger businesses working on larger contracts will have to pay at least $11.30/hour in urban areas and $8.50/hour in rural areas. While this bill is no substitute for an adequate minimum wage covering all workers, it is a positive […]

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The Economics of the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage debate is heating up once again, with the NDP and labour strongly pushing for a minimum wage of at least $10 per hour in Ontario and at the federal level (as recently recommended by the Arthurs Report.) Anti poverty groups and the Toronto Star now strongly endorse a decent minimum wage as part of an anti poverty […]

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Toronto Star: Waging war on poverty

The latest from the Toronto Star “war on poverty” series. Here is David Olive:   A constant state of dread TheStar.com – News – A constant state of dread If the poor weren’t so conveniently invisible, maybe we’d come to our moral senses and devise a national strategy for eliminating poverty. But the one in six Canadians trapped in poverty […]

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HRSDC, Low Earnings and the Working Poor

An excellent article on issues facing the working poor in today’s Toronto Star cites a recent study by Human Resources and Social Development Canada in support of the employer counter-point that raising minimum wages would do little to help working poor families. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1158531020220 Indeed, precisely this point is made in an August, 2006 HRSDC Working Paper “When Working is not […]

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The US Inequality Debate

Brad DeLong makes the definitive summary of the positions and evidence being put forward about inequality in the US of A. This is the blog-o-sphere at its best: real-time expert debate, in this case among top American economists – and in full public view, contributions welcomed, rather than in a classroom at an academic conference, much less a dated collection […]

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The World Upside Down

by Jim Stanford I’ve now been in Melbourne Australia for one month of my 12-month sabbattical. It’s always interesting for an economist to live somewhere else and compare the micro-minutae of life. It’s a sure-fire way to drive your travelling partners nuts. Here are my main impressions of economic life on the bottom side of the planet so far: 1. […]

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