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Wage Structure and Public Sector Employment: Sweden versus the United States 1970-2002

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  • Domeij, David

    ()
    (Dept. of Economic Statistics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Ljungqvist, Lars

    ()
    (Dept. of Economic Statistics, Stockholm School of Economics)

Abstract

Swedish census data and tax records reveal an astonishing wage compression; the Swedish skill premium fell by more than 30 percent between 1970 and 1990 while the U.S. skill premium, after an initial decline in the 1970s, rose by 8--10 percent. Since then both skill premia have increased by around 10 percentage points in 2002. Theories that equalize wages with marginal products can rationalize these disparate outcomes when we replace commonly used measures of total labor supplies by private sector employment. Our analysis suggests that the dramatic decline of the skill premium in Sweden is the result of an expanding public sector that today comprises roughly one third of the labor force, and that expansion has largely taken the form of drawing low-skilled workers into local government jobs that service the welfare state.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 638.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 16 Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0638

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Keywords: Skill premium; employment; private sector; public sector; Sweden; United States.;

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  1. 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.
  2. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  6. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1995. "The European unemployment dilemma," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 95-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Krusell, Per, 1997. "Long-Run Implications of Investment-Specific Technological Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 342-62, June.
  8. Freeman, Richard B., 1987. "Demand for education," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 357-386 Elsevier.
  9. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  10. Per-Anders Edin & Bertil Holmlund, 1995. "The Swedish Wage Structure: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity Wage Policy?," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 307-344 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Assar Lindbeck, 1997. "The Swedish Experiment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1273-1319, September.
  13. Bergstrom, Villy & Panas, Epaminondas E, 1992. "How Robust Is the Capital-Skill Complementarity Hypothesis?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 540-46, August.
  14. David H. Autor & Mark G. Duggan, 2003. "The Rise In The Disability Rolls And The Decline In Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 157-205, February.
  15. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1.
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Cited by:
  1. Gonzalo Fernández-de-Córdoba & Javier J. Pérez & José L. Torres, 2009. "Public and private sector wages interactions in a general equilibrium model," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 0924, Banco de Espa�a.

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