Politicians, activists and economists have been fighting over the minimum wage for well over a century – at least since Massachusetts became the first state to create one in 1912. But while politicians and activists may base their support or opposition to a policy on belief, economists are supposed to ground their views in data.

The problem is economics involves the study of human behavior, which is notoriously hard to measure in a rigorous way, explains economist Veronika Dolar. So economists frequently turn to theory, models and abstraction to answer important questions, like whether raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. And this is why for decades most economists insisted the answer must be “yes.”

One of this year’s winners of the Nobel Prize in economics upended that theory-based consensus with a novel way to see the real-world effects of a minimum wage hike – changing the field of economics in the process, Dolar writes.

Also today:

  • Scrutinizing Georgia’s 150-year-old citizen arrest law
  • Turning work from home into an opportunity for rural communities
  • Does chewing ice damage your teeth?

  • Bryan Keogh

    Senior Editor, Economy + Business

    The fight over the minimum wage continues. AP Photo/John Raoux

    Does raising the minimum wage kill jobs? The centurylong search for the elusive answer shows why economics is so difficult – but data sure helps

    Veronika Dolar, SUNY Old Westbury

    The question is actually one of the most studied in all of economics and still doesn’t have a definitive answer – though Nobel-winning economist David Card got us closer.

    Politics + Society

    Environment + Energy


    • Teachers must often face student attacks alone

      Charles Bell, Illinois State University

      Teachers say school districts have left them in the lurch in the wake of attacks by students. Some admit they resort to violence themselves to send a message to students who might want to test them.

    • How to nurture creativity in your kids

      James C. Kaufman, University of Connecticut

      Art classes and STEM toys are nice, but there are simple and free ways parents can encourage their child’s creativity – or keep it from getting squashed.


    • Is chewing on ice cubes bad for your teeth?

      Matthew Cooke, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences

      A dentist explains why this is a habit worth breaking – no matter the cause or the strength of your cravings to keep doing it.

    Reader Comments 💬

    Trending on site