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Wage inequality and overeducation in a model with efficiency wages


  • Peter Skott


This paper shows that the existence and persistence of `overeducation' can be explained by an extension of the efficiency wage model. When calibrated to fit the amounts of overeducation found in most empirical studies, the model implies that both the relative wage and the relative employment of high-skill workers depend inversely on aggregate economic activity. Keeping aggregate employment constant, furthermore, low-skill unemployment rises, following an increase in the relative supply of high-skill labour, and relative wages may be insensitive to changes in relative labour supplies. The model may help to explain rising wage inequality in some countries since the early 1970s.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Skott, 2006. "Wage inequality and overeducation in a model with efficiency wages," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(1), pages 94-123, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:39:y:2006:i:1:p:94-123

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward N. Wolff, 1995. "Technology and the Demand for Skills," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_153, Levy Economics Institute.
    2. F Green & Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 1999. "Overeducation and Skills - Clarifying the Concepts," CEP Discussion Papers dp0435, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    7. Bowles, Samuel, 1985. "The Production Process in a Competitive Economy: Walrasian, Neo-Hobbesian, and Marxian Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 16-36, March.
    8. P. J. Sloane & H. Battu & P. T. Seaman, 1999. "Overeducation, undereducation and the British labour market," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(11), pages 1437-1453.
    9. Marco Manacorda & Peter Robinson, 1997. "Qualifications and the Labour Market in Britain: 1984-1994 Skill Biased Change in the Demand for Labour or Credentialism?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0330, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    10. Skott, Peter, 2005. "Fairness as a source of hysteresis in employment and relative wages," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 305-331, July.
    11. David Card & Francis Kramarz & Thomas Lemieux, 1999. "Changes in the Relative Structure of Wages and Employment: A Comparison of the United States, Canada, and France," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(4), pages 843-877, August.
    12. Carmichael, Lorne, 1985. "Can Unemployment Be Involuntary? Comment [Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 1213-1214, December.
    13. Skott, Peter & Auerbach, Paul, 2003. "Wage inequality and skill asymmetries," Economics Discussion Papers 2003-7, School of Economics, Kingston University London.
    14. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-122, April.
    15. Daly, Mary C. & Buchel, Felix & Duncan, Greg J., 2000. "Premiums and penalties for surplus and deficit education: Evidence from the United States and Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-178, April.
    16. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    17. Hersch, Joni, 1991. "Education Match and Job Match," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(1), pages 140-144, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schlicht, Ekkehart, 2007. "Wage Dispersion, Over-Qualification, and Reder Competition," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 1, pages 1-22.
    2. Baert, Stijn & Cockx, Bart & Verhaest, Dieter, 2013. "Overeducation at the start of the career: Stepping stone or trap?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 123-140.
    3. Skott, Peter & Guy, Frederick, 2007. "A model of power-biased technological change," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 124-131, April.
    4. Peter Skott & Frederick Guy, 2005. "Power-Biased Technological Change and the Rise in Earnings Inequality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2005-17, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    5. Verhaest, Dieter & Schatteman, Tom, 2010. "Overeducation in the early career: an analysis using sequence techniques," Working Papers 2010/09, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
    6. Asjad Naqvi & Engelbert Stockhammer, 2017. "Directed technological change in a post-Keynesian ecological macromodel," Working Papers PKWP1714, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group (PKSG).
    7. Fabián Slonimczyk, 2013. "Earnings inequality and skill mismatch in the U.S.: 1973–2002," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 11(2), pages 163-194, June.
    8. Slonimczyk, Fabián & Skott, Peter, 2012. "Employment and distribution effects of the minimum wage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 245-264.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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