Should the minimum wage for teenagers be raised to the adult level? Omar's got a nice debate here and here.
However, the debate overlooks an important point - that the adverse effects of doing so are not confined to the job destruction caused by higher wages.
Imagine the minimum wage for teenagers were raised with no loss of jobs at all. What would happen?
Minimum wage work would become more attractive, relative to studying. At the margin, some teenagers would therefore leave education to get minimum wage jobs.
And some of these would be more attractive to employers than current teenagers - they are, after all, intelligent and educated enough to have started in the sixth form.
So, these teenagers would displace others from jobs.
Who are these other teenagers? Some would be those with the very worst job prospects - the deeply unskilled, semi-criminals, mentally unstable or those with drug problems. Others would be ethnic minorities; because the supply of teenage workers rises, employers will have more ability to indulge racist preferences.
So, the most vulnerable people suffer.
And how will these make ends meet? At the margin, some will turn to crime. This isn't because there's a criminal culture among the underclass - it's just that rational people turn to crime if it pays.
There's evidence from the US that these effects are significant; see here, here and here (pdf).
So, a minimum wage for teenagers means lower education, worse prospects for the worse off, and more crime - even if it doesn't destroy jobs.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't help teenagers. Just that a minimum wage is a bad way of doing so.