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Changes in Labor Force Composition and Male Earnings: A Production Approach


  • Mark C. Berger


Models of aggregate production are estimated and used to investigate the effects of changes in labor force composition on the recently observed decline in the earnings of college graduates relative to other workers and on the fall in the earnings of younger workers relative to older workers. Changes in labor force composition explain substantial proportions of these observed earnings changes. The most important compositional change appears to have been the rapid increase in the number of young male college graduates. Projections outside the sample are consistent with depressed earnings throughout the lifetimes of the large baby-boom cohorts, especially among college graduates, but do not suggest that depressed college graduate earnings are a permanent phenomenon for all birth cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark C. Berger, 1983. "Changes in Labor Force Composition and Male Earnings: A Production Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(2), pages 177-196.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:18:y:1983:i:2:p:177-196

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 1993. "Job Security in America: Lessons from Germany," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number kagsnh1993, November.
    2. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Behrman, Jere & Tarbman, Paul, 1985. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the United States: Some Estimates and a Test of Becker's Intergenerational Endowments Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 144-151, February.
    4. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Patterns of Intergenerational Mobility in Income and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 456-466, August.
    5. Joseph G. Altonji & Thomas A. Dunn, 2000. "An Intergenerational Model of Wages, Hours, and Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 221-258.
    6. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    7. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-429, June.
    8. Solon, Gary, 1989. "Biases in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Correlations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 172-174, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wolff, Edward N., 2007. "The retirement wealth of the baby boom generation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 1-40, January.
    2. repec:spr:jlabrs:v:50:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s12651-017-0227-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Piekkola, Hannu, 2006. "Tax cuts and employment: Evidence from Finnish linked employer-employee data," Discussion Papers 1041, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    4. Etienne Wasmer, 2009. "Links between labor supply and unemployment: theory and empirics," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(3), pages 773-802, July.
    5. Duncan Roth & John Moffat, 2014. "Cohort size and youth unemployment in Europe: a regional analysis," ERSA conference papers ersa14p1546, European Regional Science Association.
    6. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:525-602 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Wasmer, Etienne, 2001. "Between-Group Competition In The Labour Market And The Rising Returns To Skill: US And France 1964-2000," CEPR Discussion Papers 2798, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. repec:eee:chieco:v:46:y:2017:i:c:p:10-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Borjas, George J, 1986. "The Sensitivity of Labor Demand Functions to Choice of Dependent Variable," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 58-66, February.
    10. James Stewart & Thomas Hyclak, 1986. "The effects of immigrants, women, and teenagers on the relative earnings of black males," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 93-101, June.
    11. Mark Berger, 1989. "Demographic Cycles, Cohort Size, and Earnings," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(2), pages 311-321, May.
    12. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 1987. "The demand for labor in the long run," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 429-471 Elsevier.
    13. Erik Mellander, 2000. "The Multi-Dimensional Nature of Labor Demand and Skill-Biased Technical Change," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0671, Econometric Society.
    14. Timothy J. Bartik, 1999. "Aggregate Effects in Local Labor Markets of Supply and Demand Shocks," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 99-57, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    15. Stephanie Aaronson & Bruce Fallick & Andrew Figura & Jonathan Pingle & William Wascher, 2006. "The Recent Decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate and Its Implications for Potential Labor Supply," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(1), pages 69-154.
    16. repec:eee:labchp:v:1:y:1986:i:c:p:429-471 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. John Moffat & Duncan Roth, 2014. "Cohort size and youth labour-market outcomes: the role of measurement error," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201440, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

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