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It’s where you work: increases in earnings dispersion across establishments and individuals in the US

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  • Barth, Erling
  • Bryson, Alex
  • Davis, James C.
  • Freeman, Richard

Abstract

This paper links data on establishments and individuals to analyze the role of establishments in the increase in inequality that has become a central topic in economic analysis and policy debate. It decomposes changes in the variance of ln earnings among individuals into the part due to changes in earnings among establishments and the part due to changes in earnings within-establishments and finds that much of the 1970s-2010s increase in earnings inequality results from increased dispersion of the earnings among the establishments where individuals work. It also shows that the divergence of establishment earnings occurred within and across industries and was associated with increased variance of revenues per worker. Our results direct attention to the fundamental role of establishment-level pay setting and economic adjustments in earnings inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Barth, Erling & Bryson, Alex & Davis, James C. & Freeman, Richard, 2014. "It’s where you work: increases in earnings dispersion across establishments and individuals in the US," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60604, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:60604
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nick Bloom & Fatih Guvenen & David J. Price & Jae Song, 2015. "Firming Up Inequality," CEP Discussion Papers dp1354, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Barth, Erling & Moene, Karl O. & Willumsen, Fredrik, 2015. "Reprint of "The Scandinavian model—An interpretation"," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 17-29.
    3. 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.
    4. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Rosario Crinò & Gino Gancia, 2018. "Betting on Exports: Trade and Endogenous Heterogeneity," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(609), pages 612-651, March.
    5. Isaac Sorkin, 2018. "Ranking Firms Using Revealed Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(3), pages 1331-1393.
    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: Inequality: Causes and Consequences, volume 43, pages 167-193 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    7. Christian Moser & Niklas Engbom, 2016. "Earnings Inequality and the Minimum Wage: Evidence from Brazil," 2016 Meeting Papers 72, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Barth, Erling & Moene, Karl O. & Willumsen, Fredrik, 2014. "The Scandinavian model—An interpretation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 60-72.
    9. Hyatt, Henry R. & Spletzer, James R., 2017. "The recent decline of single quarter jobs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 166-176.
    10. Sanjay K. Chugh & Christian Merkl, 2016. "Efficiency And Labor Market Dynamics In A Model Of Labor Selection," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 57, pages 1371-1404, November.
    11. Stefan Bender & Nicholas Bloom & David Card & John Van Reenen & Stefanie Wolter, 2018. "Management Practices, Workforce Selection, and Productivity," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 371-409.
    12. Giuseppe Berlingieri & Patrick Blanchenay & Chiara Criscuolo, 2017. "The Great Divergence(s)," CEP Discussion Papers dp1488, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. Raven Molloy & Christopher L. Smith & Abigail Wozniak, 2013. "Declining Migration wihin the US: The Role of the Labor Market," Working Papers 13-53, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    14. Miklós Koren & Márton Csillag, 2017. "Machines and Machinists: Importing Skill-Biased Technology," CEU Working Papers 2017_1, Department of Economics, Central European University.
    15. Dominique Guellec & Caroline Paunov, 2017. "Digital Innovation and the Distribution of Income," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the 21st Century National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Holger M. Mueller & Paige P. Ouimet & Elena Simintzi, 2015. "Wage Inequality and Firm Growth," LIS Working papers 632, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    17. Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der Gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (ed.), 2014. "Mehr Vertrauen in Marktprozesse. Jahresgutachten 2014/15," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201415.
    18. Ugo Pagano, 2016. "Knowledge as a Global Common and the Crisis of the Learning Economy," Department of Economics University of Siena 743, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    19. Annette Bernhardt & Rosemary Batt & Susan Houseman & Eileen Appelbaum, 2016. "Working Paper: Domestic Outsourcing in the United States: A Research Agenda to Assess Trends and Effects on Job Quality," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2016-03, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    20. Daniel Baumgarten & Gabriel Felbermayr & Sybille Lehwald, 2016. "Dissecting between-plant and within-plant wage dispersion - Evidence from Germany," ifo Working Paper Series 216, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    21. Ethan Rouen, 2017. "Rethinking Measurement of Pay Disparity and its Relation to Firm Performance," Harvard Business School Working Papers 18-007, Harvard Business School.
    22. Damir Stijepic, 2016. "Small Employers, Large Employers and the Skill Premium," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(1), pages 381-387.
    23. Emilien Gouin-Bonenfant, 2018. "Productivity Dispersion, Between-firm Competition and the Labor Share," 2018 Meeting Papers 1171, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    24. Kory Kantenga, 2016. "Sorting and Wage Inequality," 2016 Meeting Papers 660, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Earnings; earnings inequality; productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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