The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper provides the first systematic study of how minimum wage policies in China affect firm employment over the 2000-2007 periods. Using a novel dataset of minimum wage regulations across more than 2,800 counties matched with firm-level data, we investigate both the effect of the minimum wage and its policy enforcement tightening in 2004. A dynamic panel (difference GMM) estimator is combined with a 'neighbor-pairs-approach' to control for unobservable heterogeneity common to 'border counties' that are subject to different minimum wage changes. We show that minimum wage increases have a significant negative impact on employment, with an estimated elasticity of -0.1. Furthermore, we find a heterogeneous effect of the minimum wage on employment which depends on the firm's wage level. Specifically, the minimum wage has a greater negative impact on employment in low-wage firms than in high-wage firms. Our results are robust for different treatment groups, sample attrition correction, and placebo tests.