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Accounting for Changing Earnings Inequality in Costa Rica, 1980-99

  • TH Gindling
  • Juan Diego Trejos

After declining from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, inequality in monthly earnings in Costa Rica stabilised from 1987 to 1992 and then increased from 1992 to 1999. In this article, we use recently developed techniques to measure the extent to which these changes in earnings inequality were the result of changes associated with the distributions of personal and workplace characteristics of workers or the earnings differences associated with those characteristics. We present evidence that the most important cause of the fall in inequality prior to 1987 was a decline in returns to education. Inequality stopped falling in Costa Rica in the 1990s in part because returns to education stopped falling. The most important cause of rising inequality in monthly earnings in the 1990s was an increase in the proportion of workers working a non-standard work week (part-time or over-time).

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 41 (2005)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 898-926

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:41:y:2005:i:5:p:898-926
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  1. Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2004. "Minimum Wages, Inequality and Globalization," IZA Discussion Papers 1160, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  3. Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
  4. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  5. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  6. Horton, Susan & Kanbur, Ravi & Mazumdar, Dipak, 1991. "Labor markets in an era of adjustment : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 694, The World Bank.
  7. Funkhouser, Edward, 1998. "Changes in the returns to education in Costa Rica," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 289-317.
  8. Robinson, Sherman, 1976. "A Note on the U Hypothesis Relating Income Inequality and Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(3), pages 437-40, June.
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