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Wage Inequality in a Burdett-Mortensen World

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Author Info

  • Lawrence Uren

    ()
    (University of Melbourne, Department of Economics)

  • Gabor Virag

    ()
    (University of Rochester)

Abstract

This paper examines the development of wage inequality in the context of a Burdett- Mortensen (1998) model that is extended to incorporate worker heterogeneity through skill requirements in the production process. In this environment, wage dispersion is a natural consequence of firms pursuing different wage strategies as well as a result of worker and firm production heterogeneity. Changes in the wage distribution are then explained by changes in the productivity of heterogeneous firms. The resulting change in theoretical steady state wage distributions as a result of changes in relative productivity is consistent with many of the observed changes in distribution of wages in the US in recent decades. In particular, an increase in the productivity of less efficient firms may reduce between-group inequality while at the same time increase within-group inequality as observed during the 1970s. On the other hand, an increase in productivity of more efficient firms will tend to increase both between- and within-group inequality as observed during the 1980s and 1990s.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences in its series IEHAS Discussion Papers with number 0518.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:has:discpr:0518

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Related research

Keywords: wage inequality; BM model; skill requirements;

References

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  1. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  4. DiNardo, John E & Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1997. "The Returns to Computer Use Revisited: Have Pencils Changed the Wage Structure Too?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 291-303, February.
  5. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2001. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," NBER Working Papers 8337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2295-2350, November.
  7. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  8. Shi, Shouyong, 2002. "A Directed Search Model of Inequality with Heterogeneous Skills and Skill-Based Technology," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 467-91, April.
  9. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  10. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  11. Butters, Gerard R, 1977. "Equilibrium Distributions of Sales and Advertising Prices," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 465-91, October.
  12. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
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