Thursday, September 1, 2011

David Card

David Card is the Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley and Director of the Labor Studies Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Princeton professor Alan B. Krueger has just been was nominated by President Obama to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

In their well-known and highly respected book, Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage, Card and Krueger assembled empirical evidence from various labor markets, different periods, and different states showing no indication that higher minimum wages – contrary to the predictions of the traditional labor market model – reduce employment in the US.

From Card's 2006 interview with Douglas Clement:

Card: [I]f you raise the minimum wage a little—not a huge amount, but a little—you won't necessarily cause a big employment reduction. In some cases you could get an employment increase....

...It doesn't mean that if we raised the minimum wage to $20 an hour we wouldn't have massive problems, if we enforced it. Realistically, of course, the U.S. is never going to enforce a draconian minimum wage, nor is one ever going to be passed. However, our results don't mean that minimum wages in other economies couldn't have some effect.

I think economists who objected to our work were upset by the thought that we were giving free rein to people who wanted to set wages everywhere at any possible level. And that wasn't at all the spirit of what we actually said. In fact, nowhere in the book or in other writing did I ever propose raising the minimum wage. I try to stay out of political arguments....

I've subsequently stayed away from the minimum wage literature for a number of reasons. First, it cost me a lot of friends. People that I had known for many years, for instance, some of the ones I met at my first job at the University of Chicago, became very angry or disappointed. They thought that in publishing our work we were being traitors to the cause of economics as a whole.
Read more of this interview for some very lucid insights into the study of labor economics.

--Marshal Zeringue