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Relative Earnings and the Demand for Unskilled Labor in West German Manufacturing

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  • Steiner, Viktor
  • Wagner, Kersten
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    Abstract

    We analyze the economic factors which have contributed to the dramatic decline of the employment share of unskilled labor in German manufacturing, in particular the role played by the relatively rigid earnings structure. Potential effects of intensified international competition and skill?biased technological change on the relative employment and earnings position of unskilled workers are also discussed. We find that the substitution elasticity between unskilled and skilled labor is rather low. The decline in the employment share of unskilled workers attributable to an inflexible earnings structure therefore seems to have been modest compared to the trend decline in the skills ratio. We also find some modest effects from international competition and technological change on the employment share of unskilled labor. --

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 97-17.

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    Date of creation: 1997
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5122

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    1. Hauser, Richard, 1995. "Problems of the German Welfare State after Unification," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(3), pages 44-58, Autumn.
    2. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 1998. "The Decline in Demand for Unskilled Labor : An Empirical Analysis Method and its Application to France," Working Papers 98-53, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
    3. 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.
    4. Adrian Wood, 1995. "How Trade Hurt Unskilled Workers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 57-80, Summer.
    5. 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.
    6. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
    7. David Card & Francis Kramarz & Thomas Lemieux, 1995. "Changes in the Relative Structure of Wages and Employment: A Comparison of the United States, Canada, and France," Working Papers 734, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    8. Hunt, Jennifer, 1995. "The Effect of Unemployment Compensation on Unemployment Duration in Germany," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 88-120, January.
    9. Steiner, Viktor, 1997. "Extended benefit entitlement periods and the duration of unemployment in West Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 97-14, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    10. Paul Krugman, 1995. "Growing World Trade: Causes and Consequences," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 327-377.
    11. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
    12. Susan N. Houseman & Katharine G. Abraham, 1995. "Earnings Inequality in Germany," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz (ed.), Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 371-403 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    13. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 1994. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," NBER Working Papers 4678, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Flaig, Gebhard & Steiner, Viktor, 1993. "Searching for the \"productivity slowdown’: some surprising findings from West German manufacturing," Munich Reprints in Economics 20364, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    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, June.
    16. Gary Burtless, 1995. "International Trade and the Rise in Earnings Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(2), pages 800-816, June.
    17. Siebert, Horst, 1997. "Labor market rigidities and unemployment in Europe," Kiel Working Papers 787, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    18. Richard B. Freeman, 1995. "Are Your Wages Set in Beijing?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 15-32, Summer.
    19. Diewert, W E & Wales, T J, 1992. "Quadratic Spline Models for Producer's Supply and Demand Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 705-22, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Franz, Wolfgang, 1997. "Flexibilität der qualifikatorischen Lohnstruktur und Lastverteilung der Arbeitslosigkeit: Eine ökonometrische Analyse für Westdeutschland," ZEW Discussion Papers 97-32, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Puhani, Patrick A., 2001. "Wage rigidities in Western Germany? Microeconometric evidence from the 1990s," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-36, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Gerlach, Knut & Jirjahn, Uwe, 1998. "Technischer Fortschritt, Arbeitsorganisation und Qualifikation : eine empirische Analyse für das Verarbeitende Gewerbe Niedersachsens (Technological progress, organisation of labour, and qualificatio," Mitteilungen aus der Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 31(3), pages 426-437.
    4. Olivier Bontout & Sébastien Jean, 2000. "What Drove Relative Wages in France? Structural Decomposition Analysis in a General Equilibrium Framework, 1970-1992," Working Papers 2000-03, CEPII research center.
    5. Gerry Boyle; & Pauline McCormack, 1998. "Trade and Technological Explanations for Changes in Sectoral Labour Demand in OECD Economies," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n770598, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
    6. Koebel, Bertrand M. & Falk, Martin, 1999. "Curvature conditions and substitution pattern among capital, energy, materials and heterogeneous labour," ZEW Discussion Papers 99-06, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    7. repec:iab:iabmit:v:31:i:3:p:426-437 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Köllő, János, 2001. "Hozzászólás az elmaradt minimálbérvitához
      [Contribution to an omitted debate on the minimum wage]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1064-1080.
    9. Arne Heise, 1998. "Behindert das 'Modell Deutschland' den Tertiarisierungsprozess? Ein Vergleich mit Großbritannien," Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - WuG, Kammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte für Wien, Abteilung Wirtschaftswissenschaft und Statistik, vol. 24(3), pages 331-352.

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