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Postsecondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality

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  • Thomas Lemieux

Abstract

The paper presents descriptive evidence from quantile regressions and more "structural" estimates from a human capital model with heterogenous returns to show that most of the increase in wage inequality between 1973 and 2005 is due to a dramatic increase in the return to post-secondary education. The model with heterogenous returns also helps explain why both the relative wages and the within-group dispersion among highly-educated workers have increased in tandem over time. These findings add to the growing evidence that, far from being ubiquitous, changes in wage inequality are increasingly concentrated in the very top end of the wage distribution.
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Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Postsecondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 195-199, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:2:p:195-199
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282806777211667
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," NBER Working Papers 11628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling and Earnings," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 41-63, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, October.
    8. 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.
    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. Olivier Deschenes, 2001. "Unobserved Ability, Comparative Advantage, and the Rising Return to Education in the United States: A Cohort-Based Approach," Working Papers 835, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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