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If You're so Smart, Why Aren't You Rich? Wage Inequality with Heterogenous Workers?

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  • Booth, Alison L
  • Zoega, Gylfi

Abstract

This Paper provides microfoundations for wage compression by modelling wage-setting in a world of heterogeneous workers and firms. Workers are differentiated by observable innate ability. A high-ability worker confers on a firm an externality, since their ability raises the average level of talent within that firm and increases the range of tasks that can be performed. This gives some firms monopsony power in the market for labour trained to do more advanced tasks. Firms will assign their better workers to the more advanced tasks performed within their ranks, and wages are compressed within firms, so that low-ability workers are paid more, relative to their talent, than high-ability workers. The model also offers an explanation for why wage inequality has recently increased in some countries: exogenous changes that increase labour market competition can disproportionately benefit higher ability workers and widen the wages distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3190.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3190

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Related research

Keywords: heterogenous workers; hierarchical assignment models; monopsony; wage compression;

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References

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1999. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 539-572, June.
  2. Booth, Alison L & Zoega, Gylfi, 1999. "Do Quits Cause Under-Training?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 374-86, April.
  3. Gilles Saint-Paul, 2001. "On the Distribution of Income and Worker Assignment under Intrafirm Spillovers, with an Application to Ideas and Networks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-37, February.
  4. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  5. Robert C. Feenstra, . "Integration Of Trade And Disintegration Of Production In The Global Economy," Department of Economics 98-06, California Davis - Department of Economics.
  6. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
  7. HAMILTON, Jonathan & THISSE, Jacques-François & ZENOU, Yves, . "Wage competition with heterogeneous workers and firms," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1463, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  8. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  9. Sobel, Joel, 1992. "How to Count to One Thousand," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 1-8, January.
  10. Bhaskar, V & To, Ted, 1999. "Minimum Wages for Ronald McDonald Monopsonies: A Theory of Monopsonistic Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(455), pages 190-203, April.
  11. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2009. "From public monopsony to competitive market: more efficiency but higher prices," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 586-602, July.
  2. repec:dgr:uvatin:2002118 is not listed on IDEAS

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