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Real Wages, Wage Inequality and the Regional Cost-of-living in the UK

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  • Cinzia, Rienzo

Abstract

University graduates in the UK are more concentrated in regions where the cost of housing is higher, implying that they face a higher cost-of-living that could possibly reduce the graduate real wage relative to other groups and carry implications for measures of wage dispersion. This paper reassesses how estimates of wage inequality from 1997 to 2008 vary when regional differences in the cost of housing in the UK are taken into consideration. In order to do so, the real wage is deflated by a specially constructed regional Retail Price Index (RPI); this is a new measure of the cost-of-living that partially updates the national RPI with a regional housing index, therefore allowing the RPI to vary by regions. Results show that the national RPI underestimates the cost-of-living of workers living in the most expensive regions (London, South East) and overestimates the cost-of-living for “cheaper” regions (Northern Ireland, Scotland). When deflating hourly wages by the regional RPI, the average level of wages is lower from 8% to 11% an hour for all workers in London and the South East, but is higher (from 2% to 9%) in the remaining regions; similarly the college –high school wage gap decreases form 6 to 13% in levels when deflating wages by the real regional RPI.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 36390.

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Date of creation: Feb 2010
Date of revision: Oct 2010
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:36390

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Keywords: cost-of-living; wages; wage inequality; RPI;

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  1. Tim Leunig & Henry Overman, 2008. "Spatial patterns of development and the British housing market," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 59-78, spring.
  2. John Schmitt, 1995. "The Changing Structure of Male Earnings in Britain, 1974-1988," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 177-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gilles Duranton & Vassilis Monastiriotis, 2002. "Mind the Gaps: The Evolution of Regional Earnings Inequalities in the U.K., 1982-1997," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 219-256.
  4. Dan Black & Natalia Kolesnikova & Lowell Taylor, 2009. "Earnings Functions When Wages and Prices Vary by Location," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 21-47, 01.
  5. John Muellbauer & Anthony Murphy, 2008. "Housing markets and the economy: the assessment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 1-33, spring.
  6. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2005. "Regional Wages and the Need for a Better Area Cost Adjustment," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 86-88, April.
  7. Blow, Laura & Crawford, Ian, 2001. "The Cost of Living with the RPI: Substitution Bias in the UK Retail Prices Index," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(472), pages F357-82, June.
  8. Andrew Henley, 2005. "On regional growth convergence in Great Britain," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(9), pages 1245-1260.
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