The Minimum Wage in Colombia 1984-2001: Favoring the Middle Class with a Bite on the Poor

Carlos A. Arango, Angelica Pachon

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


This paper exploits the long history of the minimum wage in Colombia in order to see whether it has improved the living conditions of low income families and reduced income inequality. This paper also explores how the minimum wage may have distorted market outcomes in the process. We fi nd signifi cant negative minimum wage effects on both the likelihood of being employed and hours worked among household heads. The negative effect is strongest for women, the young and less educated people. For non-head household members, we find that a rise in the minimum wage significantly increases labor participation, reduces hours worked, and increases the likelihood of being unemployed. Most importantly, we find evidence that the minimum wage ends up being regressive, improving the living conditions of families in the middle and the upper parts of the income distribution but causing net losses for those at the bottom ; minimum wage, income distribution, income inequality, poverty alleviation
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationEnsayos sobre Política Económica
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • minimum wage
  • income distribution
  • income inequality
  • poverty alleviation


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