Department of Economics

Informing the National Minimum Wage

Professor Richard Dickens, Professor of Economics, is a leading academic on labour markets and the minimum wage.

His research has directly informed the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission, on the rate at which the National Minimum Wage is set; on the associated regulations; and on the Commission’s evaluation of the economic impact of the National Minimum Wage.

In particular, in 2010, as a result of research conducted by Prof Dickens and others, the age of eligibility for the National Minimum Wage was lowered from 22 to 21 years, leading to 55,000 young British workers benefiting directly from a 20 per cent increase in wages.

See more: Improving the labour market experience for low-paid workers in Britain

In 2014 Prof Dickens was appointed as an independent member of the UK’s Low Pay Commission for a three-year term.

The Low Pay Commission makes recommendations to the Government on the level at which to set the National Minimum Wage.

As a commissioner, Professor Dickens is involved in:

  • Monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the impact of the National Minimum Wage on pay,
  • Employment and competitiveness in low paying sectors and small firms; the effect on different groups of workers,
  • The effect on pay structures,
  • The interaction between the National Minimum Wage and the tax and benefit systems.  

The Commission reports to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, and consists of a Chair and eight other members. Three of the Commissioners have an employee/trade union background, 3 have an employer background and 3 are independent/academic labour relations specialists.

In July 2015, Professor Dickens provided information on the UK’s experience in addressing wage inequality, as well as the modalities of introducing a national minimum wage at a conference organized by the government of South Africa, which is exploring whether to introduce a minimum wage so as to address the triple challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty.