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Firms' Heterogeneity in Capital/Labor Ratios and Wage Inequality

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  • Leonardi, Marco

    (London School of Economics and IZA)

Abstract

This paper provides some empirical evidence and a theory of the relationship between residual wage inequality and the increasing dispersion of capital/labor ratios across firms. I document the increasing variance of capital/labor ratios across firms in the US labor market using Compustat data. I also show that the increase in the variance of capital/labor ratios across firms is related to the increasing variance of wages. To explain these empirical regularities I adopt a search model where firms differ in their optimal composition of capital between equipment and structure. As the relative price of equipment falls over time the distribution of capital/labor ratios becomes more dispersed across firms. In a frictional labor market this force generates wage dispersion among identical workers. In the model the increase in wage inequality is due only to job changers as they are randomly matched to an increasingly wide variety of jobs (capital/labor ratio). This feature of the model is consistent with recent evidence that indicates that the bulk of the increase in wage inequality took place between plants rather than within plants. Simple estimation of the model indicates that the dispersion of capital/labor ratios can explain up to one half of the total increase in residual wage inequality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Royal Economic Society in its series Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 with number 136.

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Date of creation: 04 Jun 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ecj:ac2003:136

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Keywords: wage inequality; capital intensity; search models;

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Cited by:
  1. Mauro Caselli, 2014. "Trade, skill-biased technical change and wages in Mexican manufacturing," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 336-348, January.
  2. Kalantzis, Y. & Kambayashi, R. & Lechevalier, S., 2012. "Wage and Productivity differentials in Japan. The Role of Labor Market Mechanisms," Working papers 399, Banque de France.
  3. Contessi, Silvio & Nicola, Francesca de & Li, Li, 2013. "International trade, female labor, and entrepreneurship in MENA countries," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 89-114.
  4. ITO Keiko & Sebastien LECHEVALIER, 2008. "The evolution of the productivity dispersion of firms - A reevaluation of its determinants in the case of Japan," Discussion papers 08014, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  5. Julian Emami Namini & Giovanni Facchini & Ricardo A. Lopez, 2011. "Export Growth and Factor Market Competition: Theory and Some Evidence," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-013/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Silvio Contessi & Pierangelo De Pace, 2011. "The (non-)resiliency of foreign direct investment in the United States during the 2007-2009 financial crisis," Working Papers 2011-037, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  7. Mauro Caselli, 2010. "Trade liberalisation, skill-biased technical change and wages in developing countries: a model with heterogeneous firms," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-27, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  8. Emami Namini, Julian, 2014. "The short and long-run impact of globalization if firms differ in factor input ratios," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 37-64.
  9. Julian Emami Namini & Giovanni Facchini & Ricardo Lopez, 2011. "Export Growth and Factor Market Competition: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 28, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
  10. Yip, Chi Man, 2010. "Can't SBTC explain the U.S. wage inequality dynamics?," MPRA Paper 31198, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Julian Emami Namini, 2009. "International Trade with Firm Heterogeneity in Factor Shares," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-020/1, Tinbergen Institute.

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