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Relative Supply and Demand for Skills in Switzerland

  • Patrick A. Puhani

Whereas Anglo-Saxon economies have recently experienced a widening wage distribution between skill groups, the Swiss wage structure has remained almost stable. This raises the question whether the Swiss labour market did not experience a decrease in the relative demand for low-skilled workers as the Anglo-Saxon economies or whether it was supply changes that kept the wage distribution between skill groups constant. I show that immigration policy played a negligible role and that the stable wage structure was made possible by adequate increases in the relative supply of skills that neutralised the increasing relative demand. From a policy perspective, my results are supportive of existing supply-side policies aiming to improve the skills of the workforce, like the expansion of higher education.

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Article provided by Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES) in its journal Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 141 (2005)
Issue (Month): IV (December)
Pages: 555-584

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Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2005-iv-3
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  1. Machin, S. & Van Reenen, J., 1997. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," Papers 24, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  2. Richard B. Freeman & Ronald Schettkat, 2000. "Skill Compression, Wage Differentials and Employment: Germany vs. the US," NBER Working Papers 7610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Peter Gottschalk & Mary Joyce, 1997. "Cross-National Differences in the Rise in Earnings Inequality: Market and Institutional Factors," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 366, Boston College Department of Economics.
  4. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
  5. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," Working papers 95-5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Patrick A. Puhani, 2003. "Relative Demand Shocks and Relative Wage Rigidities During the Rise and Fall of Swiss Unemployment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 541-562, November.
  7. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Eli Bekman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1245-1279.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  10. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  11. Dragana Djurdjevic, 2005. "Unemployment and Under-Employment: The Case of Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(I), pages 23-70, March.
  12. Boris A. Zürcher, 2004. "Income Inequality and Mobility: A Nonparametric Decomposition Analysis by Age for Switzerland in the 80s and 90s," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(II), pages 265-292, June.
  13. Michael Gerfin, 1994. "Income Distribution, Income Inequality and Life Cycle Effects - A Nonparametric Analysis for Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 130(III), pages 509-522, September.
  14. Markus Frölich & Michael Lechner & Heidi Steiger, 2003. "Statistically Assisted Programme Selection - International Experiences and Potential Benefits for Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 139(III), pages 311-331, September.
  15. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Cross-Country Inequality Trends," NBER Working Papers 8832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Freeman, Richard B., 1987. "Demand for education," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 357-386 Elsevier.
  17. Gerfin, Michael & Lechner, Michael, 2000. "Microeconometric Evaluation of the Active Labour Market Policy in Switzerland," IZA Discussion Papers 154, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. 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.
  19. Marco Manacorda & Barbara Petrongolo, 1996. "Skill Mismatch and Unemployment in OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0307, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  20. Paul R. Krugman, 1994. "Past and prospective causes of high unemployment," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Jan, pages 49-98.
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