Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

What Is a Minimum Wage For? Empirical Results and Theories of Justice

Document type Article
Author Green, David A.
Journal Canadian Public Policy
Volume 40
Date 2014 12
ISSN 0317-0861, 1911-9917
Pages 293-314


I undertake a Rawlsian political economy exercise—namely, one in which economic institutions are judged by how well they match principles in theories of distributive justice. I contend that such an exercise is integrally related to empirical economics because most theories of justice emphasize respect, which, in turn, depends on how wages and employment are actually assigned in an economy. I explore these ideas in relation to the minimum wage. This leads to a different emphasis on what minimum wage–related outcomes need study, and to a claim that minimum wage setting is related to standards of fairness.