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CEP discussion paper
Minimum Wages and On-the-Job Training
Daron Acemoglu and Jörn-Steffen Pischke
April 2002
Paper No' CEPDP0527:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J24;J31;J41

Tags: imperfect labor markets; low wage workers; general human capital; firm sponsored training

Becker's theory of human capital predicts that minimum wages should reduce training investments for affected workers because they prevent these workers from taking wage cuts necessary to finance training. In contrast, in noncompetitive labor markets, minimum wages tend to increase training of affected workers because they induce firms to train their unskilled employees. We provide new estimates on the impact of the state and federal increases in the minimum wage in the US between 1987 and 1992 on the training of low-wage workers. We find no evidence that minimum wages reduce training, and little evidence that they tend to increase training. We therefore develop a hybrid model where minimum wages reduce the training investments of workers who were taking wage cuts to finance their training, while increasing the training of other workers. Finally, we provide some evidence consistent with this hybrid model.

Research in Labor Economics 22, 2003, pp.159-202