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The Market for "Rough Diamonds": Information, Finance and Wage Inequality

  • Theodore, Koutmeridis
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    During the past four decades both between and within group wage inequality increased significantly in the US. I provide a microfounded justification for this pattern, by introducing private employer learning in a model of signaling with credit constraints. In particular, I show that when financial constraints relax, talented individuals can acquire education and leave the uneducated pool, this decreases unskilled inexperienced wages and boosts wage inequality. This explanation is consistent with US data from 1970 to 1997, indicating that the rise of the skill and the experience premium coincides with a fall in unskilled-inexperienced wages, while at the same time skilled or experienced wages do not change much. The model accounts for: (i) the increase in the skill premium despite the growing supply of skills; (ii) the understudied aspect of rising inequality related to the increase in the experience premium; (iii) the sharp growth of the skill premium for inexperienced workers and its moderate expansion for the experienced ones; (iv) the puzzling coexistence of increasing experience premium within the group of unskilled workers and its stable pattern among the skilled ones. The results hold under various robustness checks and provide some interesting policy implications about the potential conflict between inequality of opportunity and substantial economic inequality, as well as the role of minimum wage policy in determining the equilibrium wage inequality.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10943/467
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    Paper provided by Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) in its series SIRE Discussion Papers with number 2013-32.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:467
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    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    2. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," NBER Working Papers 15483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Stephen Machin & Alan Manning & Lupin Rahman, 2003. "Where the Minimum Wage Bites Hard: Introduction of Minimum Wages to a Low Wage Sector," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 154-180, 03.
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    5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, March.
    6. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Habermalz, Steffen, 2006. "The Speed of Employer Learning and Job Market Signaling Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 2309, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 151-172.
    9. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
    10. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
    11. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    12. Joshua C. Pinkston, 2009. "A Model of Asymmetric Employer Learning with Testable Implications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 367-394.
    13. Dooley, Martin D & Gottschalk, Peter, 1984. "Earnings Inequality among Males in the United States: Trends and the Effect of Labor Force Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 59-89, February.
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