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Postsecondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality

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  • Thomas Lemieux

Abstract

The paper presents descriptive evidence from quantile regressions and more "structural" estimates from a human capital model with heterogenous returns to show that most of the increase in wage inequality between 1973 and 2005 is due to a dramatic increase in the return to post-secondary education. The model with heterogenous returns also helps explain why both the relative wages and the within-group dispersion among highly-educated workers have increased in tandem over time. These findings add to the growing evidence that, far from being ubiquitous, changes in wage inequality are increasingly concentrated in the very top end of the wage distribution.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/000282806777211667
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 195-199

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:2:p:195-199

Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282806777211667
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  1. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  4. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  5. repec:fth:prinin:456 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2096, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Olivier Deschenes, 2001. "Unobserved Ability, Comparative Advantage, and the Rising Return to Education in the United States: A Cohort-Based Approach," Working Papers 835, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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