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Political support for minimum wage legislation


Even if minimum wage laws reduce employment opportunities for some workers, other individuals may benefit from their enactment. In particular, union members and residents of states with high wage levels would be expected to encourage their senators to vote in favor of minimum wage legislation. Examination of senators’ votes on the 1966 and 1974 minimum wage bills indicates that senators favoring passage of these bills are likely to come from states with high union membership and, to a lesser extent, high wage levels.

The equations explaining senators’ votes on these bills were disaggregated by political party affiliation and length of membership in the Senate. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to support minimum wage bills. Virtually no difference was observed between senators who voted on both the 1966 and 1974 measures and those who voted on only one.

Perhaps the most encouraging result reported is the similarity of coefficients generally observed for corresponding 1966 and 1974 equations. This similarity suggests that the equations reported herein could be used to predict votes on future minimum wage bills. The results suggest also that the general mode of analysis can be fruitfully applied to other economic legislation.

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  1. For arguments both for and against minimum wage laws, see John F. Burton, Jr., Lee K. Benham, William M. Vaughn, III, and Robert J. Flanagan (eds.)Readings in Labor Market Analysis, (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston 1971), Part VIII.

  2. Senators rather than members of the House of Representatives are studied because of the wider availability of data for states as compared with Congressional districts. For a study of voting in the House of Representatives, see Jonathan I. Silberman and Garey C. Durden, “Determining Legislative Preferences on the Minimum Wage: An Econometric Approach”,Journal of Political Economy, Volume 84, Number 2 (April 1976) pp. 317–329.

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Bloch, F.E. Political support for minimum wage legislation. Journal of Labor Research 1, 245–253 (1980).

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  • Minimum Wage
  • Union Member
  • Union Membership
  • Wage Level
  • Minimum Wage Increase