David Card and Alan B. Krueger have already made national news with their pathbreaking research on the minimum wage. Here they present a powerful new challenge to the conventional view that higher minimum wages reduce jobs for low-wage workers. In a work that has important implications for public policy as well as for the direction of economic research, the authors put standard economic theory to the test, using data from a series of recent episodes, including the 1992 increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage, the 1988 rise in California’s minimum wage, and the 1990–91 increases in the federal minimum wage. In each case they present a battery of evidence showing that increases in the minimum wage lead to increases in pay, but no loss in jobs.
A distinctive feature of Card and Krueger’s research is the use of empirical methods borrowed from the natural sciences, including comparisons between the “treatment” and “control” groups formed when the minimum wage rises for some workers but not for others. In addition, the authors critically reexamine the previous literature on the minimum wage and find that it, too, lacks support for the claim that a higher minimum wage cuts jobs. Finally, the effects of the minimum wage on family earnings, poverty outcomes, and the stock market valuation of low-wage employers are documented. Overall, this book calls into question the standard model of the labor market that has dominated economists’ thinking on the minimum wage. In addition, it will shift the terms of the debate on the minimum wage in Washington and in state legislatures throughout the country.
With a new preface discussing new data, Myth and Measurement continues to shift the terms of the debate on the minimum wage.
David Card, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economics, is Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Alan B. Krueger is Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
"Most economists believe that minimum wages invariably reduce employment, but are they right? In this compelling analysis of the U.S. minimum wage, Card and Kreuger show that recent increases in the minimum wage had no adverse effect on employment. This pathbreaking book suggests that economists know less about what the invisible hand is up to than they let on."—Richard Freeman, London School of Economics and Harvard University
"Myth and Measurementis an extraordinarily important book. It will rank with seminal works in labor economics, including Gary Becker's Human Capital, Jacob Mincer's Schooling, Earnings, and Experience, Richard Freeman and James Medoff's What Do Unions Do?, and Edmund Phelp's (ed.) Microeconomic Foundations of Employment and Inflation Theory. The book will interest everyone involved in the minimum wage debates, and it will cause economists to question seriously the models they use and how they do empirical research."—Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Cornell University
"The analysis of minimum wage by Card and Krueger is both comprehensive and provocative. It challenges the received wisdom and is certain to be a major influence on all future work on the topic."—James J. Heckman, University of Chicago
"Myth and Measurement is an extraordinarily important book. It will rank with seminal works in labor economics, including Gary Becker's Human Capital, Jacob Miner's Schooling and Earnings, Richard Freeman and James Medoff's What Unions Do?, and Edmund Phelp's (ed.), Microeconomic Foundations of Employment and Inflation Theory. The book will interest everyone involved in the minimum wage debates, and it will cause economists to question seriously the models they use and how they do empirical research."—Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Cornell University
"In Card and Krueger's hands, the collage becomes a dangerous weapon; the idea that employment has fallen significantly in the wake of minimum wage increases is attacked with both new evidence and a careful look at previous studies."—Charles Brown, University of Michigan
"The most professional work ever done on this highly controversial subject."—Richard Layard, London School of Economics