Using the Minimum Wage to Fight Inequality and Poverty

David Neumark, UC Irvine 

Economists have been studying minimum wages for over 100 years but remain divided as to their effects. Advocates argue that minimum wages raise earnings for low-income people, sometimes as if there are no costs. Opponents contend that raising the minimum wage will lead to massive job losses. The truth is that both sides are right — low-income workers who have jobs will clearly see a boost in pay, while some may see a reduction in hours, and others may lose jobs or experience increased difficulty finding a new job. But the real question is, how much does the minimum wage help poor and low-income families? On this front, the minimum wage is ineffective. It is important that policymakers and the public have a better understanding of the costs and benefits of the minimum wage and alternative policies, especially now that minimum wage increases are becoming increasingly popular at the ballot box.

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The Effects of Combat Service on Economic Transitions of Veterans

Joseph Sabia, San Diego State University, and William Skimmyhorn, U.S. Military Academy 

While a wide body of literature has examined the economic effects of being drafted into prior wars, and the labor market effects of expansions in educational and disabilities benefit generosity, next to nothing is known about how modern warfare in the post-September 11 era has impacted the economic transitions of new veterans. Our new study, War! What Is It Good For?, seeks to fill this important gap in knowledge by linking Army administrative data on enlisted veterans to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National School Clearinghouse, and state Departments of Labor. 

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The Returns of an Additional Year of Schooling: The Case of State-Mandated Kindergarten

Jade Jenkins, UC Irvine, and Maria Rueda-Rosales, UC Irvine 

While in most states kindergarten began as a voluntary program, between 1970-2015 some states mandated kindergarten attendance. This effectively shifted the minimum school entry age from age 7 (1st grade) to 6. Several changes in state school entrance laws across—and in some instances, within—states over time provide an opportunity to causally identify the influence of an additional year of ECE on individual education and labor market outcomes. This project views the impacts of mandatory kindergarten attendance on long-run outcomes as a first look at how an additional year of education during preschool will influence long-run outcomes in a policy context where federal and state governments are actively considering universal preschool programs.

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