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Occupational Choice and the E¤ects of Skill Supply on Relative Wages

  • Gregory Kurtzon


    (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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    It is shown that an economy where agents with one dimensional skill choose among occupations as intermediate complementary inputs with di¤erent learning costs has an equilibrium hierarchy from the lowest cost/skill/wage occupations to the highest which agents will cascade along away from the skill level of new entrants. This can explain why di¤erently/similarly skilled agents act like comple- ments/substitutes. The distinction between lifetime wages including the learning cost and current wages implies a more elastic e¤ect of immigration, but a more inelastic e¤ect of the minimum wage. These conclusions don?t rely on the typical assumptions of scale, preferences, or comparative advantage.

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    Paper provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its series Working Papers with number 460.

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    Length: 27 pages
    Date of creation: May 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec130050
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    1. Robert M. Costrell & Glenn C. Loury, 2004. "Distribution of Ability and Earnings in a Hierarchical Job Assignment Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1322-1363, December.
    2. Edward M. Gramlich, 1976. "Impact of Minimum Wages on Other Wages, Employment, and Family Incomes," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 409-462.
    3. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
    4. Coen N. Teulings, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Relative Wages, and the Accumulation of Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 425-461, April.
    5. Brown, Charles, 1999. "Minimum wages, employment, and the distribution of income," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 2101-2163 Elsevier.
    6. Coen N. Teulings, 2002. "Comparative Advantage, Relative Wages, and the Accumulation of Human Capital," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-081/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 08 Apr 2005.
    7. Rachel M. Friedberg & J. Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Working Papers 95-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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