IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this book chapter

Decomposition Methods in Economics

  • Fortin, Nicole
  • Lemieux, Thomas
  • Firpo, Sergio

This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of decomposition methods that have been developed since the seminal work of Oaxaca and Blinder in the early 1970s. These methods are used to decompose the difference in a distributional statistic between two groups, or its change over time, into various explanatory factors. While the original work of Oaxaca and Blinder considered the case of the mean, our main focus is on other distributional statistics besides the mean, such as quantiles, the Gini coefficient or the variance. We discuss the assumptions required for identifying the different elements of the decomposition, as well as various estimation methods proposed in the literature. We also illustrate how these methods work in practice by discussing existing applications and working through a set of empirical examples throughout the paper.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P5V-52GXSSC-7/2/1e3471a01d42580e2c5321932b6db30b
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

as
in new window

This chapter was published in:
  • O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 2011. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 4, number 4.
  • This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of Labor Economics with number 4-01.
    Handle: RePEc:eee:labchp:4-01
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookseriesdescription.cws_home/BS_HE/description

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Fitzenberger, Bernd & Kohn, Karsten & Wang, Qingwei, 2006. "The Erosion of Union Membership in Germany: Determinants, Densities, Decompositions," IZA Discussion Papers 2193, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
    3. Javier Gardeazabal & Arantza Ugidos, 2004. "More on Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 1034-1036, November.
    4. Bitler, Marianne P. & Gelbach, Jonah B. & Hoynes, Hilary W., 2005. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," IZA Discussion Papers 1728, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. David Card & Dean R. Hyslop, 2005. "Estimating the Effects of a Time-Limited Earnings Subsidy for Welfare-Leavers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(6), pages 1723-1770, November.
    6. Heywood, John S. & Parent, Daniel, 2009. "Performance Pay and the White-Black Wage Gap," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2009-42, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Jul 2009.
    7. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    8. David Neumark, 1988. "Employers' Discriminatory Behavior and the Estimation of Wage Discrimination," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 279-295.
    9. Simon D. Woodcock, 2007. "Wage Differentials in the Presence of Unobserved Worker, Firm, and Match Heterogeneity," Discussion Papers dp07-10, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
    10. Derek Neal, 2004. "The Measured Black-White Wage Gap among Women Is Too Small," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S1-S28, February.
    11. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
    12. Frank A. Cowell, 1980. "On the Structure of Additive Inequality Measures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 521-531.
    13. Francis Vella, 1998. "Estimating Models with Sample Selection Bias: A Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 127-169.
    14. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," NBER Working Papers 11628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Patrick Kline, 2011. "Oaxaca-Blinder as a Reweighting Estimator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 532-37, May.
    16. Sergio Firpo, 2007. "Efficient Semiparametric Estimation of Quantile Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 259-276, 01.
    17. Myeong-Su Yun, 2005. "A Simple Solution to the Identification Problem in Detailed Wage Decompositions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(4), pages 766-772, October.
    18. Kennedy, Peter, 1986. "Interpreting Dummy Variables," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(1), pages 174-75, February.
    19. William C. Horrace & Ronald L. Oaxaca, 2001. "Inter-Industry Wage Differentials and the Gender Wage Gap: An Identification Problem," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(3), pages 611-618, April.
    20. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    21. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 3-21, October.
    22. Richard Blundell & Amanda Gosling & Hidehiko Ichimura & Costas Meghir, 2006. "Changes in the Distribution of Male and Female Wages Accounting for Employment Composition Using Bounds," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-420, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    23. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2008. "Learning from the Past," NBER Chapters, in: Heroes and Cowards: The Social Face of War National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
    25. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1997. "Swimming Upstream: Trends in the Gender Wage Differential in 1980s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 1-42, January.
    26. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The U.S. Gender Pay Gap in the 1990S: Slowing Convergence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 45-66, October.
    27. Ronald L. Oaxaca & Michael R. Ransom, 1999. "Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 154-157, February.
    28. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2008. "Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 621-654, October.
    29. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01gb19f581g is not listed on IDEAS
    30. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
    31. Melly, Blaise, 2005. "Decomposition of differences in distribution using quantile regression," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 577-590, August.
    32. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
    33. Victor Chernozhukov & Ivan Fernandez-Val & Blaise Melly, 2012. "Inference on counterfactual distributions," CeMMAP working papers CWP05/12, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    34. Richard B. Freeman, 1978. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," NBER Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    35. Patrick Mcewan & Jeffery Marshall, 2004. "Why does academic achievement vary across countries? Evidence from Cuba and Mexico," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 205-217.
    36. John M. Krieg & Paul Storer, 2006. "How Much Do Students Matter? Applying The Oaxaca Decomposition To Explain Determinants Of Adequate Yearly Progress," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 24(4), pages 563-581, October.
    37. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-79, July.
    38. Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1996. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions and the Gender Gap," Cahiers de recherche 9607, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
    39. Blundell, Richard & Powell, James L., 2007. "Censored regression quantiles with endogenous regressors," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(1), pages 65-83, November.
    40. 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 410-42, June.
    41. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
    42. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1992. "The Gender Earnings Gap: Learning from International Comparisons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 533-38, May.
    43. Dolton, P J & Makepeace, G H, 1986. "Sample Selection and Male-Female Earnings Differentials in the Graduate Labour Market," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 317-41, July.
    44. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
    45. Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the U.K," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 635-666.
    46. Manski, C.F., 1989. "Nonparametric Bounds On Treatment Effects," Working papers 8909, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    47. Joseph G. Altonji & Prashant Bharadwaj & Fabian Lange, 2012. "Changes in the Characteristics of American Youth: Implications for Adult Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 783 - 828.
    48. François Bourguignon & Ferreira Francisco H. G. & Philippe G. Leite, 2008. "Beyond Oaxaca-Blinder: Accounting for differences in household income distributions," Post-Print halshs-00754283, HAL.
    49. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/5rkqqmvrn4tl22s9mc4b6ga2g is not listed on IDEAS
    50. Busso, Matias & DiNardo, John & McCrary, Justin, 2009. "New Evidence on the Finite Sample Properties of Propensity Score Matching and Reweighting Estimators," IZA Discussion Papers 3998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    51. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," NBER Working Papers 6699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    52. Rosa L. Matzkin, 2003. "Nonparametric Estimation of Nonadditive Random Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1339-1375, 09.
    53. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
    54. Thomas Bauer & Silja Göhlmann & Mathias Sinning, 2006. "Gender Differences in Smoking Behavior," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 06/07, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    55. Stephen G. Donald & David A. Green & Harry J. Paarsch, 2000. "Differences in Wage Distributions Between Canada and the United States: An Application of a Flexible Estimator of Distribution Functions in the Presence of Covariates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 609-633.
    56. Sergio Firpo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Unconditional Quantile Regressions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    57. Guido W. Imbens & Whitney K. Newey, 2002. "Identification and Estimation of Triangular Simultaneous Equations Models Without Additivity," NBER Technical Working Papers 0285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    58. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-44, September.
    59. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
    60. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1, 07.
    61. D. W. Jorgenson & Z. Griliches, 1967. "The Explanation of Productivity Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 34(3), pages 249-283.
    62. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    63. Keane, Michael P. & Todd, Petra E. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 2011. "The Structural Estimation of Behavioral Models: Discrete Choice Dynamic Programming Methods and Applications," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    64. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder, 2000. "Efficient Estimation of Average Treatment Effects Using the Estimated Propensity Score," NBER Technical Working Papers 0251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    65. Joseph G. Altonji & Rosa L. Matzkin, 2005. "Cross Section and Panel Data Estimators for Nonseparable Models with Endogenous Regressors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1053-1102, 07.
    66. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
    67. Denise J. Doiron & W. Craig Riddell, 1994. "The Impact of Unionization on Male-Female Earnings Differences in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 504-534.
    68. Even, William E. & Macpherson, David A., 1990. "Plant size and the decline of unionism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 393-398, April.
    69. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
    70. Victor Chernozhukov & Ivan Fernandez-Val & Alfred Galichon, 2010. "Quantile and Probability Curves without Crossing," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/5rkqqmvrn4t, Sciences Po.
    71. Albrecht, James & Björklund, Anders & Vroman, Susan, 2001. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," IZA Discussion Papers 282, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    72. Robert Barsky & John Bound & Kerwin Charles & Joseph Lupton, 2001. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 8466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    73. Dan A. Black & Amelia M. Haviland & Seth G. Sanders & Lowell J. Taylor, 2008. "Gender Wage Disparities among the Highly Educated," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 630-659.
    74. Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens, 2002. "Identification and Inference in Nonlinear Difference-In-Differences Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    75. Judith Fields & Edward N. Wolff, 1995. "Interindustry Wage Differentials and the Gender Wage Gap," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(1), pages 105-120, October.
    76. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-25, April.
    77. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Nancy Clements, 1997. "Making The Most Out Of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting For Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535.
    78. Markus Frölich, 2004. "Finite-Sample Properties of Propensity-Score Matching and Weighting Estimators," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 77-90, February.
    79. F. L. Jones, 1983. "On Decomposing the Wage Gap: A Critical Comment on Blinder's Method," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(1), pages 126-130.
    80. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Postsecondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 195-199, May.
    81. Chay, Kenneth Y. & Lee, David S., 2000. "Changes in relative wages in the 1980s Returns to observed and unobserved skills and black-white wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 1-38, November.
    82. Kristin F. Butcher & John DiNardo, 1998. "The Immigrant and Native-born Wage Distributions: Evidence from United States Censuses," NBER Working Papers 6630, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    83. Hugo Nopo, 2003. "Matching as a Tool to Decompose Wage Gaps," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0406, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    84. Ben Jann, 2008. "The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(4), pages 453-479, December.
    85. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
    86. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
    87. Ben Jann, 2005. "Standard Errors for the Blinder-Oaxaca Decomposition," German Stata Users' Group Meetings 2005 03, Stata Users Group.
    88. Gregory M. Duncan & Duane E. Leigh, 1980. "Wage Determination in the Union and Nonunion Sectors: A Sample Selectivity Approach," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(1), pages 24-34, October.
    89. Foresi, S. & Paracchi, F., 1992. "The Conditional Distribution of Excess Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Working Papers 92-49, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    90. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
    91. Martin Biewen, 2001. "Measuring the Effects of Socio-Economic Variables on the Income Distribution: An Application to the East German Transition Process," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 185-190, February.
    92. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    93. John Dinardo & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Diverging Male Wage Inequality in the United States and Ganada, 1981–1988: Do Institutions Explain the Difference?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(4), pages 629-651, July.
    94. Rothe, Christoph, 2010. "Nonparametric estimation of distributional policy effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 155(1), pages 56-70, March.
    95. John DiNardo & David S. Lee, 2004. "Economic Impacts of New Unionization on Private Sector Employers: 1984–2001," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1383-1441.
    96. Thomas Lemieux, 2002. "Decomposing changes in wage distributions: a unified approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 646-688, November.
    97. Gomulka, Joanna & Stern, Nicholas, 1990. "The Employment of Married Women in the United Kingdom 1970-83," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 57(226), pages 171-99, May.
    98. Nicole M. Fortin, 2008. "The Gender Wage Gap among Young Adults in the United States: The Importance of Money versus People," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    99. Sergio Firpo & Cristine Pinto, 2016. "Identification and Estimation of Distributional Impacts of Interventions Using Changes in Inequality Measures," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(3), pages 457-486, 04.
    100. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1983. "Labor Market Discrimination against Hispanic and Black Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 570-79, November.
    101. Bourguignon, Francois, 1979. "Decomposable Income Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(4), pages 901-20, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:labchp:4-01. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.