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Changes in the Relative Structure of Wages and Employment: A Comparison of Canada, France and the United States

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Listed:
  • Card, David
  • Kramarz, Francis
  • Lemieux, Thomas

Abstract

Standard economic models suggest that adverse demand shocks will lead to bigger employment losses if institutional factors like minimum wages or trade unions prevent real wages from declining. Some analysts have argued that this insight explains the dichotomy between the United States, where real wages of less-skilled workers fell over the 1980s and aggregate employment expanded vigorously, and Europe, where real wages of less-skilled workers were constant and employment was stagnant. We test this hypothesis by comparing recent changes in wage and employment rates for different age and education groups in Canada, France and the United States. We argue that similar trade and technology shocks that led to falling real wages for less-skilled workers in the United States have affected Canada and France. Consistent with the view that labour market institutions in these countries inhibit wage flexibility, we find that the relative wages of less-skilled workers fell somewhat less in Canada that in the United States during the 1980s and did not fall at all in France. Nevertheless, we find similar patterns of employment changes by skill group in the three countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Card, David & Kramarz, Francis & Lemieux, Thomas, 1998. "Changes in the Relative Structure of Wages and Employment: A Comparison of Canada, France and the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 2008, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harmon, Harmon & Ian Walker, 1996. "The marginal and average returns to schooling," IFS Working Papers W96/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Ichino, Andrea & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1998. "The Long-Run Educational Cost of World War II: An Example of Local Average Treatment Effect Estimation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1895, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. John Bound & David A. Jaeger, 1996. "On the Validity of Season of Birth as an Instrument in Wage Equations: A Comment on Angrist & Krueger's "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Scho," NBER Working Papers 5835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1996. "More Equal but Less Mobile? Education Financing and Intergenerational Mobility in Italy and in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 1496, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Manasse, Paolo & Stanca, Luca & Turrini, Alessandro, 2004. "Wage premia and skill upgrading in Italy: why didn't the hound bark?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 59-83, February.
    2. Kjersti-Gro Lindquist & Terje Skjerpen, 2000. "Explaining the change in skill structure of labour demand in Norwegian manufacturing," Discussion Papers 293, Statistics Norway, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    relative employment changes; Technical Shocks; wage flexibility;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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