American University
thesesdissertations_6119_OBJ.pdf (7.44 MB)

Three empirical studies of the impact of the minimum wage on immigrants

Download (7.44 MB)
posted on 2023-08-04, 21:46 authored by Joyce M. Northwood

This study explores the impact of the minimum wage on employment, labor force participation, and location choice, with an emphasis on lesser-educated immigrants. I first analyze the impact of the minimum wage on employment outcomes for immigrants and other low-wage groups. I fill a gap in the existing literature by focusing on newly-arrived, lesser-educated immigrants---a group with a significant share of minimum wage workers---along with teens and native high school drop-outs. My results indicate that employers view workers as heterogeneous; when the minimum wage is increased, employment decreases for some and increases for others. For teenagers, an increase in the minimum wage decreases employment by a small amount, while for some groups of immigrants and native dropouts, an increase in the minimum wage increases employment. These findings are robust across a variety of specifications and contribute to a reconciliation of past contradictory results as well as shed some light on the theoretical debate. The second section analyzes the determinants of the labor supply of married low-skilled women and whether a higher minimum wage induces them into the labor force. I employ monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) panel data, which allow for variation in the minimum wage over time and across states. My approach is unique in using the minimum wage instead of some measure of average wages and thus contributes to the wider study of the labor supply of married women as well as to the role of the minimum wage. The results indicate a positive relationship between the level of the minimum wage and labor force participation for some groups of less-educated married women. Third, I investigate the factors that determine the settlement location of newly arriving immigrants, again focusing on the role of the minimum wage. My contribution in this area is to focus on the least-skilled, those that are most likely to earn at or near the minimum wage. Most existing research in this area treats immigrants as a homogenous group regardless of education. I find little convincing evidence that increasing the minimum wage attracts large numbers of lesser-skilled immigrants.







Thesis (Ph.D.)--American University, 2008.


Media type


Access statement


Usage metrics

    Theses and Dissertations


    Ref. manager