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The Evolution of Inequality in Productivity and Wages: Panel Data Evidence

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  • Giulia Faggio
  • Kjell Salvanes
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

There has been a remarkable increase in wage inequality in the US, UK and many other countries over the past three decades. A significant part of this appears to be within observable groups (such as age-gender-skill cells). A generally untested implication of many theories rationalizing the growth of within-group inequality is that firm-level productivity dispersion should also have increased. The relevant data for the US is problematic, so we utilize a UK panel dataset covering the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors since the early 1980s. We find evidence that productivity inequality has increased. Existing studies have underestimated this increased dispersion because they use data from the manufacturing sector which has been in rapid decline. Most of the increase in individual wage inequality has occurred because of an increase in inequality between firms (and within industries). Increased productivity dispersion appears to be linked with new technologies as suggested by models such as Caselli (1999) and is not primarily due to an increase in transitory shocks, greater sorting or entry/exit dynamics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13351.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Publication status: published as Giulia Faggio & Kjell G. Salvanes & John Van Reenen, 2010. "The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(6), pages 1919-1951, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13351

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  1. Chad Syverson, 2001. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Working Papers 01-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  3. Kremer, M & Maskin, E, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill," Working papers 96-23, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Nickell, S.J., 1993. "Competition and Crporate Performance," Economics Series Working Papers 99155, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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  7. 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.
  8. Julia I. Lane & John C. Haltiwanger & James Spletzer, 1999. "Productivity Differences across Employers: The Roles of Employer Size, Age, and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 94-98, May.
  9. Rasmus Lentz & Dale T. Mortensen, 2005. "Productivity Growth And Worker Reallocation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(3), pages 731-749, 08.
  10. Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Technological Acceleration, Skill Transferability, And The Rise In Residual Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 297-338, February.
  11. Michael Kremer & Eric Maskin, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1777, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  12. 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.
  13. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain The Rising Return To College For Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746, May.
  14. Thomas Lemieux, 2002. "Decomposing changes in wage distributions: a unified approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 646-688, November.
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