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Compensating differentials and unmeasured ability in the labor market for nurses: Why do hospitals pay more?

  • Edward J. Schumacher
  • Barry T. Hirsch

Registered nurses (RNs) employed in hospitals realize a large wage advantage relative to RNs employed elsewhere. Cross-sectional estimates indicate a hospital RN wage advantage of roughly 20%. This paper examines possible sources of the hospital premium, a topic of some interest given the current shifting of medical care out of hospitals. Longitudinal analysis of Current Population Survey data for 1979-94 suggests that a third to a half of the advantage is due to unmeasured worker ability, and the authors conclude that the remainder of the advantage probably reflects compensating differentials for hospital disamenities. Supporting these conclusions is evidence that hospital RNs have higher cognitive ability and higher-quality job experience than non-hospital RNs, and indications that shift work accounts for roughly 10% of the hospital premium. (Abstract courtesy JSTOR.)

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 50 (1997)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 557-579

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:50:y:1997:i:4:p:557-579
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  1. DuMond J.M. & Hisch, B.T. & Macpherson, D.A., 1996. "Wage Differentials Across Labor Markets and Workers: Does Cost of Living Matter?," Working Papers 1996_08_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  2. Hirsch, Barry T. & Schumacher, Edward J., 1995. "Monopsony power and relative wages in the labor market for nurses," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(4), pages 443-476, October.
  3. Adamache, Killard W. & Sloan, Frank A., 1982. "Unions and hospitals : Some unresolved issues," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 81-108, May.
  4. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, . "Union Wages, Rents, and Skills in Health Care Labor Markets," Working Papers 9721, East Carolina University, Department of Economics.
  5. LaVonne A. Booton & Julia I. Lane, 1985. "Hospital Market Structure and the Return to Nursing Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(2), pages 184-196.
  6. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1992. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-industry Wage Differentials?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 515-35, July.
  7. Paracchi, F. & Welch, F., 1992. "How Representative Are Matched Cross Sections? Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Working Papers 92-53, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Erica L. Groshen & Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "The structure of supervision and pay in hospitals," Working Paper 8907, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  9. Kostiuk, Peter F, 1990. "Compensating Differentials for Shift Work," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1054-75, October.
  10. Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," NBER Working Papers 2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-71, July.
  12. Hwang, Hae-shin & Reed, W Robert & Hubbard, Carlton, 1992. "Compensating Wage Differentials and Unobserved Productivity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 835-58, August.
  13. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  14. Jakubson, George, 1991. "Estimation and Testing of the Union Wage Effect Using Panel Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 971-91, October.
  15. Roger Feldman & Richard Scheffler, 1982. "The union impact on hospital wages and fringe benefits," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(2), pages 196-206, January.
  16. Kevin T. Reilly, 1995. "Human Capital and Information: The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-18.
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