IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/edn/esedps/277.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Recent changes in British wage inequality: Evidence from firms and occupations

Author

Abstract

Using a dataset covering a large sample of employees and their mostly very large employers, we study the dynamics of British wage inequality over the past two decades. Contrary to other studies, we find little evidence that recent increases in inequality have been driven by differences in the average wages paid by firms. Instead greater dispersion within firms can account for the majority of changes to the wage distribution. After controlling for the changing occupational content of employee wages, the role of average firm residual differences is approximately zero; the modestly increasing trend in between-firm wage inequality is explained by a combination of changes in between-occupation inequality and the occupational specialisation of firms. It is possible that previous studies, which assign some of the importance of changes in the between-firm component to industry, have misrepresented a significant role for occupations. These results are robust across measures of hourly, weekly and annual wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Schaefer & Carl Singleton, 2017. "Recent changes in British wage inequality: Evidence from firms and occupations," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 277, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:277
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.econ.ed.ac.uk/papers/id277_esedps.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Card & Ana Rute Cardoso & Joerg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2018. "Firms and Labor Market Inequality: Evidence and Some Theory," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 13-70.
    2. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2003. "Nominal wage rigidity and the rate of inflation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 762-781, October.
    3. Elizabeth Weber Handwerker & James R. Spletzer, 2016. "The Role of Establishments and the Concentration of Occupations in Wage Inequality," Research in Labor Economics, in: Lorenzo Cappellari & Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.), Inequality: Causes and Consequences, volume 43, pages 167-193, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    4. Giulia Faggio & Kjell G. Salvanes & John Van Reenen, 2010. "The evolution of inequality in productivity and wages: panel data evidence," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(6), pages 1919-1951, December.
    5. David N.F. Bell & David G. Blanchflower, 2013. "Underemployment in the UK Revisited," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 224(1), pages 8-22, May.
    6. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008. "Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
    7. Oskar Nordström Skans & Per-Anders Edin & Bertil Holmlund, 2009. "Wage Dispersion Between and Within Plants: Sweden 1985-2000," NBER Chapters, in: The Structure of Wages: An International Comparison, pages 217-260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Erling Barth & Alex Bryson & James C. Davis & Richard Freeman, 2016. "It's Where You Work: Increases in the Dispersion of Earnings across Establishments and Individuals in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S2), pages 67-97.
    9. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    10. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
    11. David Card & Jörg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2013. "Workplace Heterogeneity and the Rise of West German Wage Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 967-1015.
    12. Katarína Borovičková & Robert Shimer, 2017. "High Wage Workers Work for High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 24074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Andrews, M.J. & Gill, L. & Schank, T. & Upward, R., 2012. "High wage workers match with high wage firms: Clear evidence of the effects of limited mobility bias," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 824-827.
    14. Jorge Alvarez & Felipe Benguria & Niklas Engbom & Christian Moser, 2018. "Firms and the Decline in Earnings Inequality in Brazil," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 149-189, January.
    15. Richard Blundell & Claire Crawford & Wenchao Jin, 2014. "What Can Wages and Employment Tell Us about the UK's Productivity Puzzle?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0(576), pages 377-407, May.
    16. Nicholas Bloom & Fatih Guvenen & Benjamin S. Smith & Jae Song & Till von Wachter, 2018. "The Disappearing Large-Firm Wage Premium," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 108, pages 317-322, May.
    17. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Marc-Andreas Muendler & Stephen J. Redding, 2017. "Trade and Inequality: From Theory to Estimation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(1), pages 357-405.
    18. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
    19. Cortes, Guido Matias & Salvatori, Andrea, 2019. "Delving into the demand side: Changes in workplace specialization and job polarization," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-176.
    20. Jae Song & David J Price & Fatih Guvenen & Nicholas Bloom & Till von Wachter, 2019. "Firming Up Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(1), pages 1-50.
    21. Oi, Walter Y. & Idson, Todd L., 1999. "Firm size and wages," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 33, pages 2165-2214, Elsevier.
    22. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2006. "Real Wage Cyclicality of Job Stayers, Within-Company Job Movers, and Between-Company Job Movers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 105-119, October.
    23. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 251-334, March.
    24. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
    25. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931.
    26. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244.
    27. Magda, Iga & Gromadzki, Jan & Moriconi, Simone, 2021. "Firms and wage inequality in Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 499-552.
    28. David Card & Thomas Lemieux & W. Craig Riddell, 2004. "Unions and Wage Inequality," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(4), pages 519-562, October.
    29. Steve J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1991. "Wage Dispersion Between and Within U.S. Manufacturing Plants, 1963-1986," NBER Working Papers 3722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    30. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
    31. Chris Belfield & Richard Blundell & Jonathan Cribb & Andrew Hood & Robert Joyce, 2017. "Two Decades of Income Inequality in Britain: The Role of Wages, Household Earnings and Redistribution," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(334), pages 157-179, April.
    32. repec:oup:restud:v:84:y::i:1:p:357-405. is not listed on IDEAS
    33. Timothy Dunne & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth R. Troske, 2004. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in United States Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 397-430, April.
    34. Michael W. L. Elsby & Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2016. "Wage Adjustment in the Great Recession and Other Downturns: Evidence from the United States and Great Britain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 249-291.
    35. 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 410-442, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Magda, Iga & Gromadzki, Jan & Moriconi, Simone, 2021. "Firms and wage inequality in Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 499-552.
    2. Sarah Louise Jewell & Giovanni Razzu & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Who Works for Whom and the UK Gender Pay Gap," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 58(1), pages 50-81, March.
    3. Daniel Schaefer & Carl Singleton, 2017. "Real Wages and Hours in the Great Recession: Evidence from Firms and their Entry-Level Jobs," CESifo Working Paper Series 6766, CESifo.
    4. Victoria Gregory, 2020. "Firms as Learning Environments: Implications for Earnings Dynamics and Job Search," Working Papers 2020-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 28 Jan 2021.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Daniel Schaefer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Recent Changes in British Wage Inequality: Evidence from Large Firms and Occupations," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 67(1), pages 100-125, February.
    2. Daniel Baumgarten & Gabriel Felbermayr & Sybille Lehwald, 2020. "Dissecting Between‐Plant and Within‐Plant Wage Dispersion: Evidence from Germany," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 85-122, January.
    3. Jae Song & David J Price & Fatih Guvenen & Nicholas Bloom & Till von Wachter, 2019. "Firming Up Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(1), pages 1-50.
    4. Van Reenen, John, 2011. "Wage inequality, technology and trade: 21st century evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 730-741.
    5. Magda, Iga & Gromadzki, Jan & Moriconi, Simone, 2021. "Firms and wage inequality in Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 499-552.
    6. Elizabeth Weber Handwerker & James R. Spletzer, 2016. "The Role of Establishments and the Concentration of Occupations in Wage Inequality," Research in Labor Economics, in: Lorenzo Cappellari & Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.), Inequality: Causes and Consequences, volume 43, pages 167-193, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    7. Baumgarten, Daniel, 2013. "Exporters and the rise in wage inequality: Evidence from German linked employer–employee data," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 201-217.
    8. Sarah Louise Jewell & Giovanni Razzu & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Who Works for Whom and the UK Gender Pay Gap," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 58(1), pages 50-81, March.
    9. Bias, Daniel & Chen, Lin & Lochner, Benjamin & Schmid, Thomas, 2020. "Measuring workers' financial incentives," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 07/2020, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    10. da Silveira, Jaylson Jair & Lima, Gilberto Tadeu, 2021. "Wage inequality as a source of endogenous macroeconomic fluctuations," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 35-52.
    11. David Card & Ana Rute Cardoso & Joerg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2018. "Firms and Labor Market Inequality: Evidence and Some Theory," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 13-70.
    12. Lochner, Benjamin & Seth, Stefan & Wolter, Stefanie, 2020. "Decomposing the large firm wage premium in Germany," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    13. Richiardi, Matteo G. & Valenzuela, Luis, 2019. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Aggregate Labour Share," MPRA Paper 94561, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Cortes, Guido Matias & Salvatori, Andrea, 2019. "Delving into the demand side: Changes in workplace specialization and job polarization," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 164-176.
    15. Winkler, Erwin, 2020. "Diverging paths: Labor reallocation, sorting, and wage inequality," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224535, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Salverda, Wiemer & Checchi, Daniele, 2014. "Labour-Market Institutions and the Dispersion of Wage Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 8220, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Hynninen, Sanna-Mari & Ojala, Jari & Pehkonen, Jaakko, 2013. "Technological change and wage premiums: Historical evidence from linked employer–employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-11.
    18. Claudine Gartenberg & Julie Wulf, 2020. "Competition and Pay Inequality Within and Between Firms," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(12), pages 5925-5943, December.
    19. Maarten Goos & Melanie Arntz & Ulrich Zierahn & Terry Gregory & Stephanie Carretero Gomez & Ignacio Gonzalez Vazquez & Koen Jonkers, 2019. "The Impact of Technological Innovation on the Future of Work," JRC Working Papers on Labour, Education and Technology 2019-03, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    20. Erling Barth & James C. Davis & Richard B. Freeman & Kristina McElheran, 2020. "Twisting the Demand Curve: Digitalization and the Older Workforce," Working Papers 20-37, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wage inequality; within-firm inequality; occupational wage premium;
    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:277. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deediuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Research Office (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/deediuk.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.