August 2020

IZA DP No. 13633: When the Minimum Wage Really Bites Hard: Impact on Top Earners and Skill Supply

We investigate minimum wage spillovers by exploiting the first-time introduction of a minimum wage within a quasi-experiment in a context with an extraordinary large bite: the German roofing industry. We find positive wage spillovers for medium-skilled workers with wages just above the minimum wage, but negative effects for high-skilled top earners in East Germany, where the bite was particularly pronounced. There, the minimum wage lowered both returns to skills and skill supply. We propose a theoretical model according to which negative spillovers occur whenever a negative scale effect dominates a positive substitution effect and provide empirical support for our theory.