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Real Wage Inequality

  • Enrico Moretti

While nominal wage differences between skilled and unskilled workers have increased since 1980, college graduates have experienced larger increases in cost of living because they have increasingly concentrated in cities with high cost of housing. Using a city-specific CPI, I find that real wage differences between college and high school graduates have grown significantly less than nominal differences. Changes in the geographical location of different skill groups are to a significant degree driven by city-specific shifts in relative demand. I conclude that the increase in utility differences between skilled and unskilled workers since 1980 is smaller than previously thought based on nominal wage differences. (JEL J22, J23, J24, J31, R23, R31)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 65-103

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:65-103
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.1.65
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  10. 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.
  11. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
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  21. Michael Greenstone & Richard Hornbeck & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "Identifying Agglomeration Spillovers: Evidence from Million Dollar Plants," Working Paper Series 36-08, The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, revised Jan 2008.
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