Abstract: This paper analyzes the effect of minimum wage and labor market regulations on productivity. The main hypothesis to be tested is that an increase in the relative minimum wage could have a negative effect on total factor productivity (TFP) if there are important costs of adjustment like firing costs. Using data for the Chilean manufacturing industry for the period 1992 2005, we find that the effect of relative minimum wage is negative and significant. The quantitative effect on cumulative TFP for an industry in the 25th percentile of relative minimum wage increase was a decline of 5.3% for the period 1998-2005, but for an industry in the 75th percentile of relative minimum wage increase, the cumulative reduction in TFP was 10.2%, over the same period. We also find that the continuous reduction in unilateral trade restrictions and through free trade agreements has been productivity enhancing. This is especially true for those sectors with larger exposure to international trade.
Keywords: TFP, minimum wage, firing costs, slowdown
JEL: O17, J30