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Wage inequality and demand for skill: Evidence from five decades

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  • Chinhui Juhn
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    Abstract

    Using the 1940-90 Censuses, the author examines long-run changes in male wage inequality and skill premiums and investigates the extent to which shifts in observable measures of skill supply and demand can account for relative wage fluctuations across decades. A simple supply and demand framework is reasonably successful in accounting for movements in the education premium but is less successful in explaining changes in overall wage inequality. While the difference between the 90th and 10th percentiles of the log wage distribution fell sharply in the 1940s and grew at an accelerating rate in the 1980s, relative demand for the most versus the least skilled workers rose steadily throughout the period. The pace of industrial change and, in particular, the expansion of medium-skilled sectors such as blue-collar manufacturing appear to have been inversely related to overall wage inequality growth. (Abstract courtesy JSTOR.)

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

    Volume (Year): 52 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 3 (April)
    Pages: 424-443

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    Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:52:y:1999:i:3:p:424-443

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    Cited by:
    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "Education and Income in the Early 20th Century: Evidence from the Prairies," NBER Working Papers 7217, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Paul Beadry & Paul Beaudry & David A. Green & Ben Sand, 2013. "The great reversal in the demand for skill and cognitive tasks," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 22, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    3. Fang, Chen-ray & Huang, Li-hsuan & Wang, Ming-cheng, 2008. "Technology spillover and wage inequality," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 137-147, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Lefter, Alexandru & Sand, Benjamin M., 2011. "Job Polarization in the U.S.: A Reassessment of the Evidence from the 1980s and 1990s," Economics Working Paper Series 1103, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    6. Wolff, Edward N., 2001. "The Impact of IT Investment on Income and Wealth Inequality in the Postwar US Economy," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. David Autor & Frank Levy & Richard Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    8. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2007. "Uncovering the American Dream: Inequality and Mobility in Social Security Earnings Data since 1937," NBER Working Papers 13345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bernhard Boockmann & Viktor Steiner, 2006. "Cohort effects and the returns to education in West Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(10), pages 1135-1152.
    10. Anabela Carneiro & José Varejão, 2012. "Establishment Turnover and the Evolution of Wage Inequality," CEF.UP Working Papers 1202, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    11. Jose Varejao & Anabela Carneiro, 2005. "Plant Turnover and the Evolution of Regional Inequalities," ERSA conference papers ersa05p709, European Regional Science Association.
    12. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. Budd, John W. & McCall, Brian P., 1999. "Decomposing Changes In Retail Food Wage Distributions, 1983-1998: A Semi-Parametric Analysis," Working Papers 14327, University of Minnesota, The Food Industry Center.
    14. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Theresa M. Glomb & John D. Kammeyer-Mueller & Maria Rotundo, . "Emotional Labor Demands and Compensating Wage Differentials," Working Papers 0802, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
    16. John W. Budd & Brian P. McCall, 2001. "The Grocery stores wage distribution: A semi-parametric analysis of the role of retailing and labor market institutions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 484-501, March.
    17. Wang, Ming-cheng & Fang, Chen-ray & Huang, Li-hsuan, 2009. "International knowledge spillovers and wage inequality in developing countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1208-1214, November.

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