The Meaning of Markets

July 25, 2014
Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Those who oppose regulations of any type, including mandates to pay workers a specified minimum wage, often invoke the language of free markets. In a market economy, the argument goes, individuals should be free to enter into transactions, whether it be for the purchase of goods and services or labor services.


The Minimum Wage and those Inconvenient Facts

April 3, 2014
Oren Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Critics of the minimum wage often assert that not only is it misguided because of its adverse employment effects, but it is poorly targeted because most minimum wage earners are not poor. Rather they are secondary earners who are either spouses or teenagers. And those who scoff at claims of income inequality maintain that those at the bottom lack the skills necessary to command higher wages in an economy ever more biased towards advanced technology and skills. But these claims are really half-truths that miss some inconvenient facts.


Why the Minimum Wage is Important

July 9, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman

Amidst the debate over whether the minimum wage really helps those at the bottom or whether it causes more unemployment, we often lose sight of why it was needed in the first place. Today the debate over the minimum wage has become a side show between those who argue that it results in disemployment and those who argue that it benefits the poor.


"The Social Costs of Paying Low Wages"

March 5, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

The recent release of the Congressional Budget Office’s report that an increase in the minimum wage could lead to a loss of as much as one million jobs by 2016 has created quite a stir. Those  on the right hailed it as proof that an increase in the minimum wage is a bad idea precisely because we are still plagued by long-term unemployment. Meanwhile, those on left hailed the report as a vindication that the minimum wage would result in at least 16 million Americans getting a raise, which in turn would benefit the economy through increased spending.


Sources of Wage Inequality?

June 20, 2014
Oren M. Levin-Waldman
, Ph.D.

The conventional explanation for growing wage inequality is often referred to as the skills-biased towards technical change theory. This holds that with globalization and increased capital mobility, the economy has changed from industrial production to a post-industrial service based economy. The former did not need a greatly skilled workforce, but the latter, being  technologically more advanced, did require much greater skill.


Rising Income Inequality, the Minimum Wage, and the Median Voter Theorem

February 19, 2014
By Oren M. Levin-Waldman, Ph.D.

Rising income inequality, of course, is problematic because it symbolizes the dual nature of our economy and the shrinking middle class. It is also dangerous to democracy because it tilts the power balance in policy formulation towards the interests of the wealthy away from the poor and the middle class. What is often not talked about is the relationship between rising income inequality, increased pressure for redistribution, and in the extreme revolution.