Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality
In: Handbook of Labor Economics
This chapter presents a framework for understanding changes in the wage structure and overall earnings inequality. The framework emphasizes the role of supply and demand factors and the interaction of market forces and labor market institutions. Recent changes in the US wage structure are analyzed in detail to highlight crucial measurement issues that arise in studying wage structure changes and to illustrate the operation of the supply-demand-institution framework. The roles of skill-biased technological change, globalization forces, changes in demographics and relative skill supplies, industry labor rents, unions, and the minimum wage in the evolution of the US wage structure are examined. Recent wage structure changes are placed in a longer-term historical perspective, and differences and similarities in wage structure changes among OECD nations are assessed.
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