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Changing Returns to Education During a Boom? The Case of Ireland

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  • Seamus McGuinness

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Frances McGinnity

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Philip J. O'Connell

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

Abstract

Ireland's "Celtic Tiger" years saw GDP per capita rise from 60% of the EU average to 120% of the average over the course of the 1990s, with a growth in employment of about 40% over the period 1994-2001. What were the consequences of the boom for returns to education and wage inequality? This paper uses data from the Living in Ireland Survey for 1994, 1997 and 2001 to examine wage inequality, the returns to education and the relative demand for labour for men and women. Theories of skilled-biased technical change suggest that the rapid period of economic growth experienced in Ireland will have been accompanied by a rise in the relative demand for skilled labour that will, in turn, have led to rising wage inequality. However, this is not the case for this period. We find fairly stable returns to education and falling wage inequality for men throughout the period, partly explained by a rapid growth in demand for unskilled labour, which helped maintain low-skilled wages. For women we find some fall in the wage premium to a university degree and falling wage inequality in the period 1997-2001. We argue that for women, low-skilled wages were kept up by the introduction of the minimum wage in 2000, and high skilled wages fell due to a rapid rise in the supply of highly qualified women. The Irish example shows that skill-biased technical change theory needs to take account of both the specific changes in the nature of labour demand and the nature and extent of concomitant changes in labour supply.

Suggested Citation

  • Seamus McGuinness & Frances McGinnity & Philip J. O'Connell, 2008. "Changing Returns to Education During a Boom? The Case of Ireland," Papers WP227, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp227
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aysit Tansel & Fatma Bircan Bodur, 2012. "Wage Inequality and Returns to Education in Turkey: A Quantile Regression Analysis," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(1), pages 107-121, February.
    2. repec:esr:wpaper:bp2016/2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Bercholz, Maxime & FitzGerald, John, 2016. "Recent Trends in Female Labour Force Participation in Ireland," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    4. Smyth, Emer & McCoy, Selina, 2009. "Investing in Education: Combating Educational Disadvantage," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS006.
    5. DAVIA, Maria A. & McGUINNESS, Seamus & O’CONNELL, Philip J., 2014. "Exploring The Role Of Labour Market Uncertainty In Explaining Differences In Rates Of Return To Education In Europe," Regional and Sectoral Economic Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 14(3), pages 89-104.
    6. Kelly, Elish & McGuinness, Seamus & Walsh, John R., 2015. "An Evaluation of the Back to Education Allowance," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number RS47.
    7. McGuinness, Seamus & Kelly, Elish & Pham Thi Thu, Phuong & Ha Thi Thu, Thuy, 2015. "Returns to Education and the Demand for Labour in Vietnam," Papers WP506, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    8. Brian Nolan & Bertrand Maitre & Sarah Voitchovsky & Christopher Whelan, 2012. "GINI DP 70: Inequality and Poverty in Boom and Bust: Ireland as a Case Study," GINI Discussion Papers 70, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    9. McGuinness, Seamus & Kelly, Elish & O'Connell, Philip J., 2008. "The Impact of Wage Bargaining Regime on Firm-Level Competitiveness and Wage Inequality: The Case of Ireland," Papers WP266, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    10. Rafal Kierzenkowski & Isabell Koske, 2012. "Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are they Compatible? Part 8. The Drivers of Labour Income Inequality – A Literature Review," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 931, OECD Publishing.
    11. Biagetti, Marco & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2009. "Wage inequality and returns to schooling in Europe: a semi-parametric approach using EU-SILC data," MPRA Paper 19060, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Brian Nolan, 2010. "Ireland: A Successful Minimum Wage Implementation?," Chapters,in: The Minimum Wage Revisited in the Enlarged EU, chapter 9 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Alan Barrett & Adele Bergin, 2009. "Estimating the Impact of Immigration in Ireland," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 35, pages 1-2.
    14. Sarah Voitchovsky & Bertrand Maitre & Brian Nolan, 2012. "Wage Inequality in Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” Boom," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(1), pages 99-133.
    15. Niamh Hardiman & Patrick Murphy & Orlaith Burke, 2008. "Legitimating Fiscal Stabilization: Ireland in Comparative Perspective," Working Papers 200813, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    16. Józef Dziechciarz, 2015. "Measurement of Rate of Return in Education. Research Directions," Proceedings of FIKUSZ 2015,in: Jolán Velencei (ed.), Proceedings of FIKUSZ '15, pages 39-56 Óbuda University, Keleti Faculty of Business and Management.
    17. Darragh Flannery & Cathal O'Donoghue, 2012. "Utilising microsimulation to estimate new marginal returns to education: Ireland 1987-2011," Working Papers WP042012, University of Limerick, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2012.
    18. Darragh Flannery & Cathal O'Donoghue, 2016. "Utilizing Microsimulation to Estimate the Private and Fiscal Returns to Education: Ireland 1987–2011," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 84(1), pages 55-80, January.
    19. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext213 is not listed on IDEAS

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