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Rising Wage Inequality, Comparative Advantage, and the Growing Importance of General Skills in the United States

  • Eric D. Gould

    (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

This study uses a model of comparative advantage to model the choice of workers into three broad occupations. The pursuit of comparative advantage is shown to reduce the level of inequality from what would occur in a random assignment of workers into occupations. However, after pricing the skills of workers separately within occupations, the results indicate that the sectors are becoming more similar in the way that they value workers' skills, thus reducing the importance of comparative advantage over time. Inequality is rising as the economy is increasingly characterized by the pursuit of absolute advantage rather than comparative advantage.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 20 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 105-147

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:20:y:2002:i:1:p:105-147
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