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Skill Premiums and the Supply of Young Workers in Germany

Listed author(s):
  • Glitz, Albrecht

    ()

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

  • Wissmann, Daniel

    ()

    (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

In this paper, we study the development and underlying drivers of skill premiums in Germany between 1980 and 2008. We show that the significant increase in the medium to low skill wage premiums since the late 1980s was almost exclusively concentrated among the group of workers aged 30 or below. Using a nested CES production function framework which allows for imperfect substitutability between young and old workers, we investigate whether changes in relative labor supplies could explain these patterns. Our model predicts the observed differential evolution of skill premiums very well. The estimates imply an elasticity of substitution between young and old workers of about 8, between medium- and low-skilled workers of 4 and between high-skilled and medium/low-skilled workers of 1.6. Using a cohort level analysis based on Microcensus data, we find that long-term demographic changes in the educational attainment of the native (West-)German population – in particular of the post baby boomer cohorts born after 1965 – are responsible for the surprising decline in the relative supply of medium-skilled workers which caused wage inequality at the lower part of the distribution to increase in recent decades. We further show that the role of (low-skilled) migration is limited in explaining the long-term changes in relative labor supplies.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10901.

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Length: 56 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10901
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  1. Boris Hirsch & Claus Schnabel, 2014. "What can we Learn from Bargaining Models about Union Power? The Decline in Union Power in Germany, 1992–2009," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82(3), pages 347-362, 06.
  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. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-251, April.
  4. Susanne Prantl & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2013. "Interacting Product and Labor Market Regulation and the Impact of Immigration on Native Wages," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_22, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  5. Bernd Fitzenberger & Reinhold Schnabel & Gaby Wunderlich, 2004. "The gender gap in labor market participation and employment: A cohort analysis for West Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 17(1), pages 83-116, February.
  6. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
  7. Gartner, Hermann, 2005. "The imputation of wages above the contribution limit with the German IAB employment sample," FDZ Methodenreport 200502_en, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
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