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The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the UK


  • A Gosling
  • Stephen Machin


This paper uses microeconomic data from the UK Family Expenditure Surveys and the General Household Surveys to describe and explain changes in the distribution of male wages from 1965 to 1992. Both education and age differentials can be explained as cohort effects; these are important in the UK due to a succession of policy reforms affecting the amount, quality and distribution of education that children receive. We also show that dispersion increased much more within the lower education groups. By using the GHS data we are able to show that this is primarily due to the increasing levels of qualifications obtained by some of those leaving school at 16. Finally we sow that the brief wage compression that occurred during the late 1970's can be characterised as a common effect across all education and age groups. After controlling for these we find that there was an underlying trend towards increasing dispersion during our entire sample period.

Suggested Citation

  • A Gosling & Stephen Machin, 1995. "The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0271, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0271

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kaufman, Roger T, 1989. "The Effects of Statutory Minimum Rates of Pay on Employment in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(398), pages 1040-1053, December.
    2. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & S Woodland, 1993. "Are Workers Paid their Marginal Product? Evidence from a Low Wage Labour Market," CEP Discussion Papers dp0158, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Nickell, Stephen J & Wadhwani, Sushil, 1990. "Insider Forces and Wage Determination," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 496-509, June.
    4. Richard Dickens & Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Jonathan Wadsworth, 1993. "Wages Councils: Was There a Case for Abolition?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 515-529, December.
    5. Sullivan, Daniel, 1989. "Monopsony Power in the Market for Nurses," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 135-178, October.
    6. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-1059, October.
    7. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
    8. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-273, May.
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