The ethics and economics of the minimum wage

Economics and Philosophy 20 (2):351-374 (2004)
This paper develops a normative evaluation of the minimum wage in the light of recent evidence and theory about its effects. It argues that the minimum wage should be evaluated using a consequentialist criterion that gives priority to the jobs and incomes of the worst off. This criterion would be accepted by many different types of consequentialism, especially given the two major views about what the minimum wage does. One is that the minimum wage harms the jobs and incomes of the worst off and the other is that it does neither much harm nor much good. The paper then argues at length that there are no important considerations besides jobs and incomes relevant to the assessment of the minimum wage. It criticizes exploitation arguments for the minimum wage. It is not clear that the minimum wage would reduce exploitation and the paper doubts that, if it did, it would do so in a morally significant way. The paper then criticizes freedom arguments against the minimum wage by rejecting appeals to self-ownership and freedom of contract and by arguing that no freedom of significance is lost by the minimum wage that is not already taken account of in the main consequentialist criterion. The conclusion is that, at worst, the minimum wage is a mistake and, at best, something to be half-hearted about. Footnotes1 My thanks to Paul Brown and Jerry Cohen for their written and verbal help, Andrew Williams for long discussions of this paper, two anonymous referees and the editors, and audiences at the Universities of Auckland, Newcastle, and Reading
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0266267104000240
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,422
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

124 ( #35,708 of 1,924,873 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #88,387 of 1,924,873 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.