April 2005

IZA DP No. 1566: The Effects of Living Wage Laws: Evidence from Failed and Derailed Living Wage Campaigns

published in: Journal of Urban Economics, 2005, 78 (2), 177-202

Living wage campaigns have succeeded in about 100 jurisdictions in the United States but have also been unsuccessful in numerous cities. These unsuccessful campaigns provide a better control group or counterfactual for estimating the effects of living wage laws than the broader set of all cities without a law, and also permit the separate estimation of the effects of living wage laws and living wage campaigns. We find that living wage laws raise wages of low-wage workers but reduce employment among the least-skilled, especially when the laws cover business assistance recipients or are accompanied by similar laws in nearby cities.