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Skill Compression, Wage Differentials, and Employment: Germany vs the US

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  • Freeman, Richard
  • Schettkat, Ronald

Abstract

Germany's more compressed wage structure is widely viewed as the main cause of the German-US difference in employment and unemployment, but part of the compression is due to Germany having a narrower distribution of skills than the US. Even adjusted for skills, however, we find that Germany has a more compressed wage distribution than the US. But relatively little of the US-German employment difference can be attributed to the compressed wage distribution. We find that jobless Germans have nearly the same skills as employed Germans and look more like average Americans than like low skilled Americans, which runs counter to the wage compression hypothesis. Given these patterns, the pay and employment experience of low skilled Americans is a poor counterfactual for assessing how reductions in pay might affect jobless Germans. Copyright 2001 by Oxford University Press.

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  • Freeman, Richard & Schettkat, Ronald, 2001. "Skill Compression, Wage Differentials, and Employment: Germany vs the US," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 582-603, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:53:y:2001:i:3:p:582-603
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    1. Siebert, Horst, 1997. "Labor market rigidities and unemployment in Europe," Kiel Working Papers 787, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    2. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1996. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages and Unemployment in OECD Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 302-308, May.
    3. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
    4. Horst Siebert, 1997. "Labor Market Rigidities: At the Root of Unemployment in Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 37-54, Summer.
    5. Freeman Richard B. & Schettkat Ronald, 1999. "The Role of Wage and Skill Differences in US-German Employment Differences / Die Bedeutung von Lohn- und Qualifikationsunterschieden für die deutschen-amerikanischen Beschäftigungsunterschiede," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 219(1-2), pages 49-66, February.
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