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The Declining Labour Market Outcomes of the Less Skilled: Can Fiscal Policy Make a Difference?

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  • Peter Kuhn

Abstract

Since the mid-1970s, unskilled Canadian men have experienced very sizeable reductions in real wages, and they now work substantially fewer weeks per year. This article discusses a wide range of possible policy responses to this phenomenon, arguing that the best short-term response is the expansion of earned-income tax credits, and the best long-term response involves improvements in the basic skills provided by our education system. At the same time, it argues that drastic short-term responses are not warranted because (i) recent trends in male wage inequality have, to a large extent, simply undone a major compression in male wages that occurred in the early 1970s; and (ii) these trends may be part of a broader shift in the labour market that has also produced some important winners, especially skilled women, whose labour-market prospects have dramatically improved.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Toronto Press in its journal Canadian Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 24 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 370-377

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Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:24:y:1998:i:3:p:370-377

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  1. Nada Eissa & Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 2000. "The Earned Income Tax Credit and the Labor Supply of Married Couples," Public Economics 9912001, EconWPA.
  2. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
  3. Borjas, George J & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Foreign Competition, Market Power, and Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1075-1110, November.
  4. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  5. Hoxby, Caroline Minter, 1996. "How Teachers' Unions Affect Education Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 671-718, August.
  6. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
  7. Topel, Robert H, 1994. "Regional Labor Markets and the Determinants of Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 17-22, May.
  8. Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1993. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 45-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bedard, Kelly & Ferrall, Christopher, 2003. "Wage and test score dispersion: some international evidence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 31-43, February.
  10. 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.
  11. Matthew J. Slaughter, 1995. "Multinational Corporations, Outsourcing, and American Wage Divergence," NBER Working Papers 5253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Lawrence F. Katz, 1996. "Wage Subsidies for the Disadvantaged," NBER Working Papers 5679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Peter Kuhn, . "Canada and the "OECD Hypothesis": Does Labour Market Inflexibility Explain Canada's High Level of Unemployment?," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 10, McMaster University.
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