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Individual heterogeneity and interindustry wage differentials

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  • Michael P. Keane

Abstract

Estimates of interindustry wage differentials are obtained using a fixed-effects estimator on a long panel, the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men (NLS). After controlling for observable worker characteristics, 84 percent of the residual variance of log wages across industries is explained by individual fixed-effects. Only 16 percent of the residual variance is “explained” by industry dummies. Since no controls for specific job characteristics are used, job characteristics that vary across industries could potentially explain this rather small residual across-industry log wage variance that is not attributable to individual effects. Clearly then, these data do not force us to resort to noncompetitive explanations of interindustry wage differentials, such as efficiency wage theory. Furthermore, efficiency wage theories predict that wages in efficiency wage paying (or primary) industries should be relatively rigid. Therefore, industry wage differentials should widen in recessions. However, no such tendency is found in the data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics with number 54.

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Date of creation: 1991
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmem:54

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Keywords: Wages;

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  1. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  2. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "A Near-rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Intertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 823-38, Supp..
  3. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-93, August.
  4. Freeman, Richard B, 1984. "Longitudinal Analyses of the Effects of Trade Unions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-26, January.
  5. Breusch, Trevor S & Mizon, Grayham E & Schmidt, Peter, 1989. "Efficient Estimation Using Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 695-700, May.
  6. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  7. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1985. "Equilibrium Wage Distribution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(379), pages 595-618, September.
  8. Duncan, Greg J & Holmlund, Bertil, 1983. "Was Adam Smith Right after All? Another Test of the Theory of Compensating Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 366-79, October.
  9. Wachter, Michael L, 1970. "Cyclical Variation in the Interindustry Wage Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 75-84, March.
  10. Solow, Robert M., 1979. "Another possible source of wage stickiness," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 79-82.
  11. Keane, Michael & Moffitt, Robert & Runkle, David, 1988. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Estimating the Impact of Heterogeneity with Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1232-66, December.
  12. Lang, Kevin & Kahn, Shulamit, 1990. "Efficiency Wage Models of Unemployment: A Second View," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(2), pages 296-306, April.
  13. Robert E. Hall, 1975. "The Rigidity of Wages and the Persistence of Unemployment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 6(2), pages 301-350.
  14. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1987. "Inter-Industry Wage Differences and Theories of Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 2271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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