Down from the Mountain: Skill Upgrading and Wages in Appalachia
The Appalachian region has experienced persistently higher poverty and lower earnings than the rest of the United States. We examine whether skill differentials or differences in the returns to those skills lie at the root of the Appalachian wage gap. Using census data, we decompose the Appalachian wage gap using both mean and full distribution methods. Our findings suggest that significant upgrading of skills within the region has prevented the gap from widening over the last 20 years. Additionally we find that urban areas within Appalachia have not experienced the rise in returns to skills as in non-Appalachian urban areas.
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