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Finance Sector Wage Growth and the Role of Human Capital

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  • Joanne Lindley
  • Steven Mcintosh

Abstract

Given the UK finance sector is one of the largest in the world, it provides the perfect setting for a study into the nature of the finance sector wage premium. We reveal the pervasiveness of this premium, across all sub-sectors of finance, and across all occupations within finance, and with the very highest rewards going to 40-49 year old men working in London. Moreover, the UK premium has continued to rise despite the recent financial crisis. Consequently, this study uses rich data from the UK to investigate potential explanations. We find that the financial sector is more skill intensive but also that financial sector workers have higher childhood test scores vis-à-vis non-finance workers. So we investigate to what extent these higher qualifications and higher cognitive skills can explain the financial pay differential. We then go on to consider whether the financial premium is a consequence of differences in job characteristics and thus whether technological change can explain the growth in the premium. While each of these factors has some role to play, we find that none can fully explain the wage premium found in the financial sector, which we find to be pervasive across 17 OECD countries, including the US. We therefore attribute to this to rent-sharing.
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Suggested Citation

  • Joanne Lindley & Steven Mcintosh, 2017. "Finance Sector Wage Growth and the Role of Human Capital," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(4), pages 570-591, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:79:y:2017:i:4:p:570-591
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/obes.12155
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    Cited by:

    1. Stratford, Beth, 2020. "The Threat of Rent Extraction in a Resource-constrained Future," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C).
    2. Swati Dhingra & Hanwei Huang & Gianmarco Ottaviano & João Paulo Pessoa & Thomas Sampson & John Van Reenen, 2017. "The costs and benefits of leaving the EU: trade effects," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(92), pages 651-705.
    3. Guyonne Kalb & Jordy Meekes, 2021. "Wage Growth Distribution and Changes over Time: 2001–2018," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 54(1), pages 76-93, March.
    4. Lutz G. Arnold & Sebastian Zelzner, 2020. "Welfare Effects of the Allocation of Talent to Financial Trading: What Does the Grossman-Stiglitz Model Say?," Working Papers 190, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    5. William J Scarborough, 2020. "Occupational gender segregation and economic growth in U.S. local labor markets, 1980 through 2010," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 15(1), pages 1-21, January.
    6. Böhm, Michael & Metzger, Daniel & Strömberg, Per, 2015. "Since you’re so rich, you must be really smart”: Talent and the Finance Wage Premium," Working Paper Series 313, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    7. Hamid Boustanifar & Everett Grant & Ariell Reshef, 2016. "Wages and human capital in finance: international evidence, 1970-2005," Globalization Institute Working Papers 266, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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