Locally controlled minimum wages are no closer to public preferences | Gabor Simonovits & Julia Payson

Does decentralizing policymaking authority lead to a closer match between public policies and citizen preferences? We study this question in the context of U.S. minimum wage laws. Using novel survey data and aggregation methods, we generate estimates of minimum wage preferences for all U.S. cities and compare them to actual minimum wages. We find that prevailing minimum wages are generally lower than residents prefer, and this conservative bias is most pronounced in states with pre-emption laws. However, locally controlled minimum wages leapfrog public preferences and are higher than residents want, on average. Finally, we consider how various counterfactual policies might improve representation and conclude that a top-down approach with minimum wages tailored to local conditions would produce the closest match between preferences and policies.


About the speakers:

Gabor Simonovits is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Central European University. He studies public opinion and political psychology.  He received her Ph.D. in Political Science from New York University in 2018. His research has appeared in Science, American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, and The American Political Science Review.

Julia Payson is an Assistant Professor of Politics at New York University. She studies representation, accountability, and public service provision in state and local governments in the U.S. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford in 2017, and she is currently a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University. Her research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, and her published work has appeared in Legislative Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Politics, and The American Political Science Review.

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