Public Policy, Minimum Wages and Economic Paradigms

David H. Plowman, PhD, and Chris Perryer, DBA

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2010; 1:G23-31

This paper applies Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions to economic paradigms. It does so by examining the dominant paradigm as it relates to minimum wage theory and policy. It examines the pre-dominant period in which the minimum wage was supported, the dominant neoclassical period in which the minimum wage is anathema, and the current period which has witnessed anomalies and a shift in professional allegiances away from the paradigm in dominance.  The dominant paradigm must either broaden its scope and integrate anomalies or face the challenge of an emergent paradigm capable of doing so.


Key words: Kuhn’s scientific revolutions, economic paradigms, labor market, minimum wage, employment effects, neo-classical economics.