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Sector-specific human capital and the distribution of earnings

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  • Eric Smith

Abstract

This paper incorporates assignment frictions and sector-specific training into the Roy model of occupational choice. Assignment frictions represent the extent of the market whereas differences in sector-specific training reflect worker specialization. This framework thus captures Adam Smith's idea that the extent of the market determines the division of labor. The paper demonstrates the way in which the relationship between assignment frictions and specialization affects the level and composition of human capital acquisition, aggregate output, and the distribution of income. Not surprisingly, economy-wide training, output, and specialization increase as the extent of the market increases. The distribution of these gains, however, is uneven. Within group or residual income, distribution does not converge monotonically as search frictions diminish. Comparisons across groups reveal that these effects can become more pronounced as average income increases.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2009-21.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2009-21

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  1. Van Reenen, John, 1994. "The Creation and Capture of Rents: Wages and Innovation in a Panel of UK Companies," CEPR Discussion Papers 1071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  3. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:10:y:2008:i:11:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. 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.
  5. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Changes in wage inequality," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4667, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Konstantinos Eleftheriou, 2008. "Matching, Specialties and Wage Inequality," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 10(11), pages 1-12.
  7. Kambourov, Gueorgui & Manovskii, Iourii, 2004. "Occupational Mobility and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 47-77, March.
  9. Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
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