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Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination

  • Robert Gibbons
  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Thomas Lemieux
  • Daniel Parent

We develop a model in which a worker's skills determine the worker's current wage and sector. Both the market and the worker are initially uncertain about some of the worker's skills. Endogenous wage changes and sector mobility occur as labor-market participants learn about these unobserved skills. We show how the model can be estimated using non-linear instrumental-variables techniques. We then apply our methodology to study the wages and allocation of workers across occupations and across industries. For both occupations and industries, we find that high-wage sectors employ high-skill workers and offer high returns to workers' skills. Estimates of these sectoral wage differences that do not account for sector-specific returns are therefore misleading. We also suggest further applications of our theory and methodology. Dans cet article, nous cherchons à développer un modèle par lequel le salaire d'un travailleur est fonction de ses qualifications. Le marché ainsi que le travailleur sont au préalable dans l'incertitude quant à certaines de ces qualifications. L'endogénéité à la fois des changements de salaire et des décisions de changements du secteur d'affiliation résulte du processus d'apprentissage relié aux qualifications du travailleur. Nous montrons ensuite comment le modèle peut être estimé par les méthodes des variables instrumentales non-linéaires. Nous appliquons notre méthodologie à l'étude des salaires et de l'allocation des travailleurs aux différentes occupations et industries. Nous trouvons que les secteurs à salaires élevés emploient des travailleurs ayant davantage de qualifications et que ces secteurs rémunèrent ces qualifications à un taux supérieur relativement aux secteurs à faibles salaires. Les estimés des rendements associés aux qualifications qui ne tiennent pas compte du fait que les rendements diffèrent d'un secteur à un autre sont par conséquent erronés. Nous proposons enfin d'autres applications possibles de notre méthodologie.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2002s-35.

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Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2002s-35
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