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Wage and test score dispersion: some international evidence


  • Bedard, Kelly
  • Ferrall, Christopher


This paper includes fifty observations on wage distributions across eleven countries and two age cohorts defined by international mathematics tests given to thirteen-year-olds in 1962 and 1982. It is found that wage dispersion later in life is never greater than test score dispersion. In particular, Lorenz curves for a cohorts wages always lie above or on top of the cohorts test score Lorenz curve. Wage dispersion, as summarized by Gini coefficients, is significantly related to test score dispersion and union density in the country. A general fall in test score dispersion between 1962 and 1982 appears to be reflected in reduced wage dispersion. For three countries with available data (the U.S., the U. K., and Japan), evidence of skill-based changes in wage dispersion between the early 1970s and the late 1980s is found.
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  • Bedard, Kelly & Ferrall, Christopher, 2003. "Wage and test score dispersion: some international evidence," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 31-43, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:22:y:2003:i:1:p:31-43

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paglin, Morton & Rufolo, Anthony M, 1990. "Heterogeneous Human Capital, Occupational Choice, and Male-Female Earnings Differences," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 123-144, January.
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    4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 184-193, February.
    5. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
    6. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jorge Calero & Rosario Ivano Scandurra, 2016. "Modelling adult skills in OECD countries," Working Papers 2016/17, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    2. Ponce, Juan & Bedi, Arjun S., 2010. "The impact of a cash transfer program on cognitive achievement: The Bono de Desarrollo Humano of Ecuador," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 116-125, February.
    3. Hadia Majid & Rashid Memon, 2016. "Group inequality and regional development: Evidence from Pakistan: Evidence from Pakistan," WIDER Working Paper Series 151, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. David Jesuit & Douglas Roscoe & Vincent Mahler, 1997. "Exploring the Impact of Trade and Investment on Income Inequality: A Cross-National Sectoral Analysis of the Developed Market Economy Countries," LIS Working papers 159, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    5. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00646594 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lire Ersado & Jérémie Gignoux, 2014. "Inequality of Educational Opportunities in Egypt," PSE Working Papers halshs-01064510, HAL.
    7. Francisco H. G. Ferreira & Jérémie Gignoux, 2014. "The Measurement of Educational Inequality: Achievement and Opportunity," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 210-246.
    8. Checchi, Daniele & van de Werfhorst, Herman G., 2014. "Educational Policies and Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 8222, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Lai, Fang, 2010. "Are boys left behind? The evolution of the gender achievement gap in Beijing's middle schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 383-399, June.
    10. Ersado, Lire & Gignoux, Jeremie, 2014. "Egypt : inequality of opportunity in education," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6996, The World Bank.
    11. repec:lum:rev1rl:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:156-164 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Balcazar, Carlos Felipe & Narayan, Ambar & Tiwari, Sailesh, 2015. "Born with a silver spoon : inequality in educational achievement across the world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7152, The World Bank.
    13. Das, Jishnu & Zajonc, Tristan, 2010. "India shining and Bharat drowning: Comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 175-187, July.
    14. repec:eme:rleczz:s0147-912120170000045005 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V., 2006. "Inequality of Learning in Industrialised Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 2517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Rose, Heather, 2006. "Do gains in test scores explain labor market outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 430-446, August.
    17. Lorenzo Cappellari & Paolo Castelnovo & Daniele Checchi & Marco Leonardi, 2017. "Skilled or Educated? Educational Reforms, Human Capital, and Earnings," Research in Labor Economics,in: Skill Mismatch in Labor Markets, volume 45, pages 173-197 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    18. Peter Kuhn, 1998. "The Declining Labour Market Outcomes of the Less Skilled: Can Fiscal Policy Make a Difference?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 24(3), pages 370-377, September.
    19. Salverda, Wiemer & Checchi, Daniele, 2014. "Labour-Market Institutions and the Dispersion of Wage Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 8220, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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