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Cohort patterns in Canadian earnings: assessing the role of skill premia in inequality trends


  • Paul Beaudry
  • David A. Green


In this paper we document the pattern of change in age‐earnings profiles across cohorts and evaluate its implications. Using synthetic cohorts from the survey of Consumer Finances over the period 1971 to 1993, wwe show that the age‐earnings profiles of Canadian men have been deteriorating for more recentcohorts in comparison with older cohorts. We find this pattern for both high school and university educated workers. In no case do we find evidence that the return to gaining experience has been increasing over time, nor do we find increased within‐cohort dispersion of earnings. We view these findings as conflicting with the hypothesis that increased skill premia largely explain the observed increase in dispersion of male weekly earnings. JEL Classification: J31, O33 Ce mémoire documente le pattern de changements dans les relations âges‐gains d'une cohorte à l'autre, et en analyse les implications. Utilisant des cohortes synthétiques pour la période 1971–93, on montre que les profils âges‐gains des hommes au Canada se sont détériorés dans les cohortes les plus récentes. On ne trouve pas de résultats qui montreraient que le rendement sur l'expérience accumulée s'est accru dans le temps ou qu'il y a dispersion accrue des gains à l'intérieur des cohortes. Les auteurs suggèrent que ces résultats contredisent l'hypothèse que des primes accrues pour les habiletés expliqueraient l'accroissement qu'on a observé dans la dispersion des gains des hommes au Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2000. "Cohort patterns in Canadian earnings: assessing the role of skill premia in inequality trends," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 33(4), pages 907-936, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:canjec:v:33:y:2000:i:4:p:907-936
    DOI: 10.1111/0008-4085.00047

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
    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 410-442, June.
    3. J.B. Burbidge & L. Magee & A.L. Robb, "undated". "Cohort, Year and Age Effects in Canadian Wage Data," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 13, McMaster University.
    4. Dooley, Martin D & Gottschalk, Peter, 1984. "Earnings Inequality among Males in the United States: Trends and the Effect of Labor Force Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 59-89, February.
    5. Burbidge, John B & Magee, Lonnie & Robb, A Leslie, 1997. "Canadian Wage Inequality over the Last Two Decades," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 181-203.
    6. Berube, Charles & Morissette, Rene, 1996. "Longitudinal Aspects of Earnings Inequality in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1996094e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    7. Morissette, Rene, 1995. "Why Has Inequality in Weekly Earnings Increased in Canada?," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1995080e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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