Using data from the 2006 wave of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP), this paper analyzes how a minimum wage affects employment, wage inequality, public expenditures, and aggregate income in the low-wage sector. It is shown that a statutory minimum wage of EUR 7.50 per hour would cost 840,000 low-paid jobs and increases the fiscal burden by about EUR 4 billion per year, while household income rises only by EUR 1.1 billion per year. Poor households, i.e. those eligible for Unemployment Benefits II, do not benefit from a minimum wage at all. Comparing the effects of a minimum wage with different types of wage subsidies that require the same additional public expenditures, the government can ensure more favorable employment depending on the subsidies' incidence and income effects. Wage subsidies also allow a more equal income distribution than statutory minimum wages. Combining a minimum wage with a wage subsidy, similar to the French minimum wage system, is extremely costly while such a policy is inferior to wage subsidies in all respects.
Minimum wage incidence statutory minimum wage welfare system wage subsidies