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Skill Intensity and Rising Wage Dispersion in Nineteenth-Century American Manufacturing

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  • ATACK, JEREMY
  • BATEMAN, FRED
  • MARGO, ROBERT A.

Abstract

We study the correlates of the monthly establishment wage the average monthly wage at the establishment level and changes in wage dispersion between plants using a model of manufacturing developed by Goldin and Katz and data from manuscript censuses of manufacturing. We find that wages were decreasing in establishment size, but increasing in capital intensity and use of steam power. We also find an increase in inequality in the establishment wage between 1850 and 1880. Most of the increase occurred below the median wage and can be attributed, in part, to the growing concentration of employment in large establishments.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 64 (2004)
Issue (Month): 01 (March)
Pages: 172-192

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:64:y:2004:i:01:p:172-192_00

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Cited by:
  1. Saleh, Mohamed, 2012. "The Reluctant Transformation: Modernization, Religion, and Human Capital in Nineteenth Century Egypt," TSE Working Papers 13-434, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  2. Robert A. Margo, 2013. "Economies of Scale in Nineteenth Century American Manufacturing Revisited: A Resolution of the Entrepreneurial Labor Input Problem," NBER Working Papers 19147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joshua L. Rosenbloom & William A. Sundstrom, 2009. "Labor-Market Regimes in U.S. Economic History," NBER Working Papers 15055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rowena Gray, 2011. "Taking Technology to Task: The Skill Content of Technological Change in Early Twentieth Century United States," Working Papers 0009, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  5. Kim, Sukkoo, 2005. "Industrialization and urbanization: Did the steam engine contribute to the growth of cities in the United States?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 586-598, October.
  6. Hutchinson, William K. & Margo, Robert A., 2006. "The impact of the Civil War on capital intensity and labor productivity in southern manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 689-704, October.
  7. Kim, Sukkoo, 2004. "Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States?," Institute of European Studies, Working Paper Series qt4hd75171, Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley.
  8. Thomas Brenner & Christian Cordes, 2004. "The autocatalytic character of the growth of production knowledge: What role does human labor play?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-12, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  9. Joyce Burnette, 2011. "The Emergence of Wage Discrimination in U.S. Manufacturing," Working Papers 11-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Sukkoo Kim, 2007. "Immigration, Industrial Revolution and Urban Growth in the United States, 1820-1920: Factor Endowments, Technology and Geography," NBER Working Papers 12900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Nicolas Ziebarth, 2011. "Are China and India Backwards? Evidence from the 19th Century U.S. Census of Manufactures," 2011 Meeting Papers 138, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman & Robert A. Margo, 2003. "Capital Deepening in American Manufacturing, 1850-1880," NBER Working Papers 9923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Atack, Jeremy & Bateman, Fred & Margo, Robert A., 2008. "Steam power, establishment size, and labor productivity growth in nineteenth century American manufacturing," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 185-198, April.
  14. Lawrence F. Katz & Robert A. Margo, 2013. "Technical Change and the Relative Demand for Skilled Labor: The United States in Historical Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital in History: The American Record National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Sukkoo Kim, 2005. "Industrialization and Urbanization: Did the Steam Engine Contribute to the Growth of Cities in the United States?," NBER Working Papers 11206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Hynninen, Sanna-Mari & Ojala, Jari & Pehkonen, Jaakko, 2013. "Technological change and wage premiums: Historical evidence from linked employer–employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-11.
  17. Nicolas Ziebarth, 2013. "Are China and India Backwards? Evidence from the 19th Century U.S. Census of Manufactures," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 86-99, January.

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