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Decomposing the education wage gap: everything but the kitchen sink

  • Julie L. Hotchkiss
  • Menbere Shiferaw

This paper contributes to a large literature concerned with identifying the source of the widening wage gap between high school and college graduates by providing a comprehensive, multidimensional decomposition of wages across both time and educational status. Data from a multitude of sources are brought to bear on the question of the relative importance of labor market supply and demand factors in the determination of those wage differences. The results confirm the importance of investments in and use of technology, which has been the focus of most of the previous literature, but are also able to show that demand and supply factors played very different roles in the growing wage gaps of the 1980s and 1990s.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper with number 2010-12.

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Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2010-12
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  1. Fatih Guvenen & Burhanettin Kuruscu, 2007. "A Quantitative Analysis of the Evolution of the U.S. Wage Distribution: 1970-2000," NBER Working Papers 13095, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dan A. Black & Natalia A. Kolesnikova & Lowell J. Taylor, 2007. "Earnings functions when wages and prices vary by location," Working Papers 2007-031, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  3. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2006. "The Polarization of the U.S. Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 11986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  5. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Postsecondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 195-199, May.
  6. Hirsch, Boris & König, Marion & Möller, Joachim, 2009. "Is There a Gap in the Gap? Regional Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 4231, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
  8. Todd Schoellman & Lutz Hendricks, 2009. "Student Abilities During the Expansion of U.S. Education, 1950-2000," 2009 Meeting Papers 162, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Enrico Moretti, 2002. "Estimating the Social Return to Higher Education: Evidence From Longitudinal and Repeated Cross-Sectional Data," NBER Working Papers 9108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Daniel Fernandez Kranz, 2006. "Why has wage inequality increased more in the USA than in Europe? An empirical investigation of the demand and supply of skill," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(7), pages 771-788.
  11. Barry T. Hirsch, 2005. "Why Do Part-Time Workers Earn Less? The Role of Worker and Job Skills," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(4), pages 525-551, July.
  12. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
  13. Mariassunta Giannetti, 2001. "Skill Complementarities and Migration Decisions," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 15(1), pages 1-31, 03.
  14. Crifo, Patricia, 2008. "Skill supply and biased technical change," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 812-830, October.
  15. Timothy J. Bartik, 1991. "Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wbsle, April.
  16. Julie L. Hotchkiss & M. Melinda Pitts & John C. Robertson, 2006. "The push-pull effects of the information technology boom and bust: insight from matched employer-employee data," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2006-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  17. Phillips, Peter C B & Park, Joon Y, 1988. "On the Formulation of Wald Tests of Nonlinear Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1065-83, September.
  18. Julie L. Hotchkiss & M. Melinda Pitts & Mary Beth Walker, 2010. "Assessing the impact of education and marriage on labor market exit decisions of women," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2010-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  19. Christopher H. Wheeler, 2005. "Evidence on wage inequality, worker education, and technology," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 375-393.
  20. 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.
  21. Ben Jann, 2008. "The Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition for linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 8(4), pages 453-479, December.
  22. DuMond J.M. & Hisch, B.T. & Macpherson, D.A., 1996. "Wage Differentials Across Labor Markets and Workers: Does Cost of Living Matter?," Working Papers 1996_08_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  23. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:1:p:1-39 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Ben Jann, 2008. "A Stata implementation of the Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition," ETH Zurich Sociology Working Papers 5, ETH Zurich, Chair of Sociology, revised 14 May 2008.
  25. Autor, David & Dorn, David, 2009. "Inequality and Specialization: The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 4290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
  27. Daniel Aaronson & Daniel G. Sullivan, 2001. "Cross-state evidence on the relationship between unemployment and wage growth," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue May.
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