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Wage Structure and Public Sector Employment: Sweden versus the United States 1970-2002

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  • Domeij, David
  • Ljungqvist, Lars

Abstract

Swedish census data and tax records reveal an astonishing wage compression; the Swedish skill premium fell by more than 30 percent between 1970 and 1990 while the U.S. skill premium, after an initial decline in the 1970s, rose by 8-10 percent. Since then both skill premia have increased by around 10 percentage points in 2002. Theories that equalize wages with marginal products can rationalize these disparate outcomes when we replace commonly used measures of total labour supplies by private sector employment. Our analysis suggests that the dramatic decline of the skill premium in Sweden is the result of an expanding public sector that today comprises roughly one third of the labor force, and that expansion has largely taken the form of drawing low-skilled workers into local government jobs that service the welfare state.

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  • Domeij, David & Ljungqvist, Lars, 2006. "Wage Structure and Public Sector Employment: Sweden versus the United States 1970-2002," CEPR Discussion Papers 5921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5921
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    Cited by:

    1. Pedro Gomes & Zoe Kuehn, 2017. "Human capital and the size distribution of firms," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 164-179, October.
    2. Gonzalo F De córdoba & Javier J Pérez & José L Torres, 2012. "On the substitutability between public and private employment," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(3), pages 2700-2709.
    3. Musa Orak, 2017. "Capital-Task Complementarity and the Decline of the U.S. Labor Share of Income," International Finance Discussion Papers 1200, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Gonzalo Fernández-de-Córdoba & Javier Pérez & José Torres, 2012. "Public and private sector wages interactions in a general equilibrium model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 309-326, January.
    5. Ana Lamo & Javier J. Pérez & Ludger Schuknecht, 2012. "Public or Private Sector Wage Leadership? An International Perspective," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(1), pages 228-244, March.
    6. Ctirad Slavík & Hakki Yazici, 2020. "Wage Risk and the Skill Premium," CESifo Working Paper Series 8520, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    employment; private sector; public sector; skill premium; Sweden; United States;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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