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Skill Compression, Wage Differentials, and Employment: Germany vs the US

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  • Freeman, Richard
  • Schettkat, Ronald

Abstract

Germany's more compressed wage structure is widely viewed as the main cause of the German-US difference in employment and unemployment, but part of the compression is due to Germany having a narrower distribution of skills than the US. Even adjusted for skills, however, we find that Germany has a more compressed wage distribution than the US. But relatively little of the US-German employment difference can be attributed to the compressed wage distribution. We find that jobless Germans have nearly the same skills as employed Germans and look more like average Americans than like low skilled Americans, which runs counter to the wage compression hypothesis. Given these patterns, the pay and employment experience of low skilled Americans is a poor counterfactual for assessing how reductions in pay might affect jobless Germans. Copyright 2001 by Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 53 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 582-603

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:53:y:2001:i:3:p:582-603

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  1. Richard B. Freeman & Ronald Schettkat, 1999. "The Role of Wage and Skill Differences in US-German Employment Differences," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 219(1+2), pages 49-66, July.
  2. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1996. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages and Unemployment in OECD Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 302-08, May.
  3. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  4. Horst Siebert, 1997. "Labor Market Rigidities: At the Root of Unemployment in Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 37-54, Summer.
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