Is it Who You Are, Where You Work, or With Whom You Work? Reassessing the Relationship Between Skill Segregation and Wage Inequality
In a recent paper, Kremer & Maskin (QJE, forthcoming) develop an assignment model in which increases in the dispersion and mean of the skill distribution can lead simultaneously to increases in wage inequality and skill segregation. They then present evidence that, concurrent with rising wage inequality, wage segregation increased for production workers in the United States between 1975 and 1986. My paper argues that relying on wages as a proxy for skill may be problematic. Using a newly developed longitudinal dataset linking virtually the entire universe of workers in the state of Illinois to their employers, I decompose wages into components due, not only to person and firm heterogeneity, but also to the characteristics of their co-workers. Such "co-worker effects" capture the impact of a weighted sum of the characteristics of all workers in a firm on each individual employee’s wage. While rising wage segregation can result from greater skill segregation, it may also be due to changes in the variance of co-worker effects in the economy, or to changes in the covariance between the person, firm, and co-worker components of wages. Due to the limited availability of demographic information on workers, I rely on the person specific component of wages to proxy for co-worker "skills." Because these person effects are unknown ex ante, I implement an iterative estimation approach where they are first obtained from a preliminary regression that excludes any role for co-workers. Because virtually all person and firm effects are identified, the approach yields consistent estimates of the co-worker parameters. My estimates imply that a one standard deviation increase in both a firm’s average person effect and experience level is associated, on average, with wage increases of 3% to 5%. Firms that increase the wage premia they pay workers appear to do so in conjunction with upgrading worker quality. Interestingly, the average effect masks considerable variation in the relative importance of co-workers across industries. After allowing the co-worker parameters to vary across 2 digit industries, I find that industry average co-worker effects explain 26% of observed inter-industry wage differentials. Finally, I decompose the overall distribution of wages into components due to persons, firms, and coworkers. While co-worker effects do indeed serve to exacerbate wage inequality, the tendency for high and low skilled workers to sort non-randomly into firms plays a considerably more prominent role.
|Date of creation:||Jun 2002|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233|
Phone: (301) 763-6460
Fax: (301) 763-5935
Web page: http://lehd.did.census.gov/led/
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Robert Gibbons & Lawrence Katz, 1989.
"Layoffs and Lemons,"
NBER Working Papers
2968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Brockner, Joel & Wiesenfeld, Batia M. & Martin, Christopher L., 1995. "Decision Frame, Procedural Justice, and Survivors' Reactions to Job Layoffs," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 59-68, July.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David Margolis, 1999.
"High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms,"
Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers)
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 4917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
- David Margolis, 1995. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Post-Print halshs-00378229, HAL.
- Burgess, Simon & Lane, Julia & Stevens, David, 2000.
"Job Flows, Worker Flows, and Churning,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 473-502, July.
- Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "Recent Advances in Quantile Regression Models: A Practical Guideline for Empirical Research," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 88-126.
- Bruce C. Fallick, 1996. "A Review of the Recent Empirical Literature on Displaced Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(1), pages 5-16, October.
- John M. Abowd & Paul A. Lengermann & Kevin L. McKinney, 2002. "The Measurement of Human Capital in the U.S. Economy," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Mar 2003.
- John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane & James Spletzer, 2000.
"Wages, Productivity, and the Dynamic Interaction of Businesses and Workers,"
NBER Working Papers
7994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Haltiwanger, John C. & Lane, Julia I. & Spletzer, James R., 2007. "Wages, productivity, and the dynamic interaction of businesses and workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 575-602, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:tpaper:2002-10. 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: (Erika McEntarfer)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.