The wage premium puzzle and the quality of human capital
AbstractThe wage premium for high-skilled workers in the United States, measured as the ratio of the 90th-to-10th percentiles from the wage distribution, increased by 20 percent from the 1970s to the late 1980s. A large literature has emerged to explain this phenomenon. A leading explanation is that skill-biased technological change (SBTC) increased the demand for skilled labor relative to unskilled labor. In a calibrated vintage capital model with heterogenous labor, this paper examines whether SBTC is likely to have been a major factor in driving up the wage premium. Our results suggest that the contribution of SBTC is very small, accounting for about 1/20th of the observed increase. By contrast, a gradual and very modest shift in the distribution of human capital across workers can easily account for the large observed increase in wage inequality.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in its series Working Paper Series with number 2011-06.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2011-03-26 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2011-03-26 (Business Economics)
- NEP-HRM-2011-03-26 (Human Capital & Human Resource Management)
- NEP-LAB-2011-03-26 (Labour Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 1998.
"Putty-Clay and Investment: A Business Cycle Analysis,"
NBER Working Papers
6812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 2000. "Putty-Clay and Investment: A Business Cycle Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 928-960, October.
- Simon Gilchrist & John C. Williams, 1998. "Putty-clay and investment: a business cycle analysis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Milton H. Marquis & Bharat Trehan, 2007. "Productivity shocks in a model with vintage capital and heterogeneous labor," Working Paper Series 2007-06, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
- Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994.
"Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach,"
Cahiers de recherche
9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-44, September.
- John DiNardo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1995. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 5093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
- Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Maren M. Michaelsen, 2011. "The Hidden Increase in Wage Inequality: Skill-biased and Ability-biased Technological Change," Ruhr Economic Papers 0262, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Diane Rosenberger).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.