"Sixty Five Years of National Minimum Wage: Assessing the French Experience"

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW2.1.02 (Tower Two)
Jerome Gautie, University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, Paris, France
The law introducing a national wage in France was adopted in 1950; twenty years after, in 1970, a deep reform was adopted, that led to the implementation of the so-called "SMIC" (replacing the former "SMIG"), which has strong specificities as compared to national minimum wage systems in other OECD countries.

The paper intends to present and analyse the French experience, in a both historical and politcal economy perspective. It focuses in the political process and economic debates that led to the adoption and reforms of the minimum wage since 1950. It then analyses the specific features of the nowadays French minimum wage considered here as an institutional arrangement. The SMIC, appears to be a key element of both the industrial relations system  and the welfare system. As such, it cannot be assessed only by focusing on its effects on employment - the usual economic debate. One must adopt a much wider perspective, to undestand why the minimum wage displays such an important role in France, not only in wage fixing, but also as a pillar of the French social model.  Some comparisons will be made with other systems of National Minimum Wage (in particular in the United-States, United-Kingdom and Germany).