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The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence

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  • Giulia Faggio
  • Kjell G. Salvanes
  • John Van Reenen

Abstract

There has been a remarkable increase in wage inequality in the United States, UK, and many other countries over the past three decades. A significant part of this appears to be within observable groups (such as experience-gender-skill cells). A generally untested implication of many theories rationalizing the growth of within-group inequality is that firm-level productivity dispersion should also have increased. We utilize a UK firm-level panel dataset covering the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors since the early 1980s. We find evidence that productivity inequality has increased. Existing studies have typically underestimated this phenomenon because they focus only on the manufacturing sector where inequality has risen much less and which has shrunk rapidly. Most of the increase in individual wage inequality can be accounted for by an increase in inequality between firms (and within industries). Increased productivity dispersion appears to be linked with new technologies as suggested by models such as Caselli ( 1999 , Am. Econ. Rev ., 89, 78--102) and is not primarily due to an increase in transitory shocks, greater sorting or entry/exit dynamics. Copyright 2010 The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Associazione ICC. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Giulia Faggio & Kjell G. Salvanes & John Van Reenen, 2010. "The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(6), pages 1919-1951, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:19:y:2010:i:6:p:1919-1951
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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