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The fortunes of one's birth: Relative cohort size and the youth labor market in the United States

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  • Diane J. Macunovich

    (Maxwell Center for Policy Research, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244, USA (Fax:)

Abstract

Using two different measures of relative cohort size - one indicating the size and placement of an individual's own birth cohort, and the other, the ratio of young to prime age adults in the United States in that year - it has been possible to isolate strong effects of the population age structure on wages in the United States over the past thirty-three years. These effects have been strong enough that virtually all of the observed change in the experience premium, and a substantial proportion of the changes in the college wage premium, can be explained by the relative cohort size variables alone. Even changes in the amount of within-group variance in wages appear to be largely a function of changing age structure, and absolute wage levels have been strongly affected by these demographic changes, suggesting that population growth can have positive effects on the economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Diane J. Macunovich, 1999. "The fortunes of one's birth: Relative cohort size and the youth labor market in the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(2), pages 215-272.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:12:y:1999:i:2:p:215-272
    Note: Received: 27 January 1998/Accepted: 6 June 1998 received from the people at the Maxwell Center, financial support through an NIA Fellowship, and Richard Easterlin's inspiration and support - and thanks Lee Lillard for providing her first opportunity to work with the CPS on `youth labor markets'. More detailed information on the work presented here - including results for African Americans and for those not working full time, as well as for other experience groups - are available in Macunovich, 1998. Responsible editor: Klaus F. Zimmermann-->
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wages · cohort size · youth labor market;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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