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Population aging, labor demand, and the structure of wages

  • Margarita Sapozhnikov
  • Robert K. Triest

One consequence of demographic change is substantial shifts in the age distribution of the working age population. As the baby boom generation ages, the usual historical pattern of there being a high ratio of younger workers relative to older workers is increasingly being replaced by a pattern of there being roughly equal percentages of workers of different ages. One might expect that the increasing relative supply of older workers would lower the wage premium paid for older, more experienced workers. ; This paper provides strong empirical support for this hypothesis. Econometric estimates imply that the size of one’s birth cohort affects wages throughout one’s working life, with members of relatively large cohorts (at all stages of their careers) earning a significantly lower wage than members of smaller cohorts. The cohort size effect is of approximately the same magnitude for men and for women. Our results suggest that cohort size effects are quantitatively important and should be incorporated into public policy analyses.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 07-8.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:07-8
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  1. Kevin Murphy & Mark Plant & Finis Welch, 1984. "Cohort Size and Earnings," UCLA Economics Working Papers 352, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Connelly, Rachel & Gottschalk, Peter, 1995. "The Effect of Cohort Composition on Human Capital Accumulation across Generations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 155-76, January.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 1979. "The Effect of Demographic Factors on Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 289-318.
  4. Evangelos M. Falaris & H. Elizabeth Peters, 1992. "Schooling Choices and Demographic Cycles," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 551-574.
  5. Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S65-97, October.
  6. Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1, July.
  7. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  8. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain The Rising Return To College For Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746, May.
  9. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Berger, Mark C, 1985. "The Effect of Cohort Size on Earnings Growth: A Reexamination of the Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 561-73, June.
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