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Educational Inequality

This paper develops a theoretical model that relates changes in educational inequality to the combined effects of innovations that have increased the relative demand for more educated labor and innovations that have increased ability premiums. Under the assumption that in the long run individual decisions to become more educated equalize the lifetime earnings of more educated workers and comparable less educated workers, our model yields two novel implications: First, given the existence of ability premiums, an innovation in the relative demand for more educated labor increases educational inequality in the short run, but, ceteris paribus, would decrease educational inequality in the long run. Second, in the long run innovations that increase ability premiums cause educational inequality to be larger than otherwise. In applying our theory to recent changes in educational inequality in the United States, we suggest that increases in ability premiums are dampening the long-run response of the relative supply of more educated workers that otherwise would reverse previous increases in educational inequality.

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Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2001-03.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2001-03
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

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  1. 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.
  2. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed The Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213, November.
  3. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
  4. Galor, Oded & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1997. "Technological Progress, Mobility, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 363-82, June.
  5. Kalemli-Ozcan, Sebnem & Ryder, Harl E. & Weil, David N., 2000. "Mortality decline, human capital investment, and economic growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 1-23, June.
  6. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter & Violante, Giovanni L, 2000. "General Purpose Technology and Within-Group Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2474, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Ability-Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, And Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 469-497, May.
  8. Acemoglu, Daron, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809, October.
  9. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  10. Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 47-77, March.
  11. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content Of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333, November.
  12. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Weinberg, Bruce A, 2001. " Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 285-315, December.
  14. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
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