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The changing distribution of male wages in the UK, 1966-1992


  • Amanda Gosling

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Kent)

  • Stephen Machin

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Costas Meghir

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University)


This paper uses microeconomic data from the UK Family Expenditure Surveys (FES) and the General Household Surveys (GHS) to describe and explain changes in the distribution of male wages. Since the late 1970s wage inequality has risen very fast in the UK, and this rise is characterised both by increasing education and age differentials. We show that a large part of the changes in the UK can be summarised quite simply as increases in education differentials and a decline of growth of entry level wages which persist subsequently. This fact we interpret as cohort eects. We also show that, like in the US, an important aspect of rising wage inequality is increased within-group wage dispersion. Finally we use the GHS to evaluate the role of alternative education measures.

Suggested Citation

  • Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 1998. "The changing distribution of male wages in the UK, 1966-1992," IFS Working Papers W98/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:98/09

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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin Denny & Harmon, Harmon & Sandra Redmond, 2000. "Functional literacy, educational attainment and earnings - evidence from the international adult literacy survey," IFS Working Papers W00/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Dearden, Lorraine, 1999. "The effects of families and ability on men's education and earnings in Britain1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 551-567, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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