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Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence

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  • Acemoglu, Daron

Abstract

This paper offers an alternative theory for the increase in unemployment and wage inequality experienced in the United States over the past two decades. In my model firms decide the composition of jobs and then match with skilled and unskilled workers. The demand for skills is endogenous and an increase in the proportion of skilled workers or their productivity can change the nature of equilibrium such that firms start creating separate jobs for the skilled and the unskilled. Such a change increases skilled wages, reduces unskilled wages and increases the unemployment rate of both skilled and unskilled workers. Although skilled workers are better-off as a result of this change, total social surplus can decrease. A testable implication which distinguishes this theory from others is derived and some evidence in support of this implication is provided.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1459.

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Date of creation: Sep 1996
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1459

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Keywords: Job Structure; Matching; Search; Unemployment; Wage Inequality;

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References

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  1. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
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  6. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Layard, R. & Nickell, S., 1991. "Unemployment in the OECD Countries," Economics Series Working Papers 99130, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  8. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Wage Dispersion," Working papers 97-25, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. Sattinger, Michael, 1995. "Search and the Efficient Assignment of Workers to Jobs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 283-302, May.
  10. Acemoglu, Daron, 1996. "A Microfoundation for Social Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(3), pages 779-804, August.
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  13. Nachum Sicherman, 1987. "Over-Education in the Labor Market," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 48, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  14. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs: Theory and Some Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Burdett, Ken & Coles, Melvyn G, 1997. "Marriage and Class," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 141-68, February.
  16. Shaked, Avner & Sutton, John, 1984. "Involuntary Unemployment as a Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1351-64, November.
  17. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  18. Peter Cappelli, 1996. "Technology and skill requirements: implications for establishment wage structures," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 139-156.
  19. Mortensen, Dale T, 1982. "Property Rights and Efficiency in Mating, Racing, and Related Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 968-79, December.
  20. Acemoglu, Daron & Shimer, Robert, 2000. "Wage and Technology Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(4), pages 585-607, October.
  21. Barron, John M & Bishop, John & Dunkelberg, William C, 1985. "Employer Search: The Interviewing and Hiring of New Employees," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 43-52, February.
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  23. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
  24. Peter Cappelli & Steffi L Wilk, 1997. "Understanding Selection Processes: Organization Determinants and Performance Outcomes," Working Papers 97-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  25. 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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