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Population aging, labor demand, and the structure of wages

Author

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  • Margarita Sapozhnikov
  • Robert K. Triest

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Margarita Sapozhnikov & Robert K. Triest, 2007. "Population aging, labor demand, and the structure of wages," Working Papers 07-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:07-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    3. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
    4. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    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 65-97, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. 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 155-176, January.
    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 561-573, June.
    11. Kevin Murphy & Mark Plant & Finis Welch, 1984. "Cohort Size and Earnings," UCLA Economics Working Papers 352, UCLA Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alicia H. Munnell & Mauricio Soto & Robert K. Triest & Natalia A. Zhivan, 2008. "How Much Do State Economics and Other Characteristics Affect Retirement Behavior?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-12, Center for Retirement Research, revised Sep 2008.
    2. John Moffat & Duncan Roth, 2016. "The Cohort Size-Wage Relationship in Europe," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 30(4), pages 415-432, December.
    3. Alfred Garloff & Carsten Pohl & Norbert Schanne, 2013. "Do small labor market entry cohorts reduce unemployment?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(15), pages 379-406, September.
    4. Siliverstovs, Boriss & Kholodilin, Konstantin A. & Thiessen, Ulrich, 2011. "Does aging influence structural change? Evidence from panel data," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 244-260, June.
    5. Peters, Cornelius, 2015. "Do age complementarities affect labour productivity? Evidence from German firm level data," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112941, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Ernesto Amaral & Bernardo Queiroz & Júlia Calazans, 2015. "Demographic changes, educational improvements, and earnings in Brazil and Mexico," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-21, December.
    7. Teresa Ghilarducci & Michael Papadopoulos & Siavash Radpour, 2017. "Relative Wages in Aging America: The Baby Boomer Effect," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2017-03, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    8. Alfred Garloff & Carsten Pohl & Norbert Schanne, 2011. "Do smaller labour market entry cohorts really reduce German unemployment?," ERSA conference papers ersa10p658, European Regional Science Association.
    9. Ulrich Thiessen & Konstantin A. Kholodilin & Boriss Siliverstovs, 2008. "Does Aging Influence Sectoral Employment Shares? Evidence from Panel Data," KOF Working papers 08-214, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    10. Ernesto F. L. Amaral & Bernardo L. Queiroz & Julia A. Calazans, 2015. "Effects of Demographic and Educational Changes on the Labor Markets of Brazil and Mexico," Working Papers WR-1089, RAND Corporation.
    11. Ernesto Friedrich de Lima Amaral & Joseph E. Potter & Daniel Hamermesh & Eduardo Rios-Neto, 2013. "Age, education, and earnings in the course of Brazilian development: Does composition matter?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(20), pages 581-612, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Baby boom generation ; Wages;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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