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A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries

  • David Blanchflower
  • L Katz
  • G Loveman

This paper compares changes in the structure if wages in France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States over the last twenty years. Wage differentials by education and occupation (skill differentials) narrowed substantially in all four countries in the 1970s. Overall wage inequality and skill differentials expanded dramatically in Great Britain and the United States and moderately in Japan during the 1980s. In contrast, wage inequality did not increase by much in France through the mid-1980s. Industrial and occupational shifts favored more educated workers in all four countries throughout the last twenty years. Reductions in the rate of the growth of the relative supply of college-educated workers in the face of persistent increases in educational wage differentials in the United States, Great Britain, and Japan in the 1980s. Sharp increases in the national minimum wage (the SMC) and the ability of French unions to extend contracts even in the face of declining membership helped prevent wage differentials from expanding in France through the mid-1980s.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0144.

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Date of creation: May 1993
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0144
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  2. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
  3. Steven J. Davis, 1992. "Cross-Country Patterns of Change in Relative Wages," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1992, Volume 7, pages 239-300 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata, 1984–1989," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 33-60.
  6. Katz, Lawrence F. & Revenga, Ana L., 1989. "Changes in the structure of wages: The United States vs Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 522-553, December.
  7. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-92, June.
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