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Revisiting the German Wage Structure

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  • Christian Dustmann
  • Johannes Ludsteck
  • Uta Schönberg

Abstract

This paper shows that wage inequality in West Germany has increased over the past three decades, contrary to common perceptions. During the 1980s, the increase was concentrated at the top of the distribution; in the 1990s, it occurred at the bottom end as well. Our findings are consistent with the view that both in Germany and in the United States, technological change is responsible for the widening of the wage distribution at the top. At the bottom of the wage distribution, the increase in inequality is better explained by episodic events, such as supply shocks and changes in labor market institutions. These events happened a decade later in Germany than in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Dustmann & Johannes Ludsteck & Uta Schönberg, 2009. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 843-881.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:2:p:843-881.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2009.124.2.843
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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