Since its inception due to the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the minimum wage has been a highly debated topic. Originally set at 25 cents, the minimum wage has grown much larger over time. The Federal minimum wage currently stands at $7.25, unchanged since 2009 (DOL, 2019). Many states, however, have decided to set their own minimum wages, and some are much higher than the minimum Federal level. In this study, we attempt to determine the effect that minimum wage laws at the state and Federal level have had on poverty in the United States.
Congress will soon be passing a new Covid-19 stimulus package worth nearly $900 billion. This new package provides relief for individuals that are unemployed by extending federal unemployment insurance programs as well as providing an additional $300 per week benefit. It also includes loans for businesses, testing and vaccine funds, as well as funding for schools.
Adam Smith (1723-1790), explained why some countries were rich while others were poor in his 1776 seminal book The Wealth of Nations. Since Smith, and despite efforts by economists and government to explain differences between wealthy and poor nations, the wealth gap continues to widen. Several factors may determine to some degree the wealth of a nation. These include, but are not limited to decentralization, corruption, democracy, education, trade, and institutions.
Barriers to entry such as fees, licensing, or educational requirements, make it more difficult to start businesses in many countries. Problematically, many barriers to entry are due to regulatory capture and only serve to benefit incumbent firms and businesses. These regulations that are created and enforced by the government often make it exceedingly difficult for low-income individuals to start new businesses or new careers in many industries. By discouraging or even denying individuals access to higher paying occupations, barriers to entry tend to increase income inequality. In this analysis, we estimate empirically the effect that barriers to entry have on income inequality.
Although Adam Smith lived in the 18th century, the father of modern economics still has much to teach the world today. Smith's world famous book Wealth of Nations is arguably the most important piece on economics in history. It greatly influenced other scholars, thinkers, and eventually policymakers away from the then-dominant global policy of mercantilism toward freer trade.