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Equalizing Differences in the Labor Market


  • Charles Brown


The theory of equalizing differences asserts that workers receive compensating wage premiums when they accept jobs with undesirable nonwage characteristics, holding the worker's characteristics constant. Previous research provides only inconsistent support for the theory, with wrong-signed or insignificant estimates of these wage premiums fairly common. An oft-cited reason for these anomalies is that important characteristics of the worker remain unmeasured, biasing the estimates. In this paper, longitudinal data are used to test this conjecture. Although such data improve the control for worker characteristics, the plausibility of the estimates is not markedly improved. Alternative explanations for these results are considered. "It's indoor work and no heavy lifting." —Senator Robert Dole, explaining why he wanted to be Vice President.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Brown, 1980. "Equalizing Differences in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(1), pages 113-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:94:y:1980:i:1:p:113-134.

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