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Wage Arrears and the Distribution of Earnings in Russia

  • Lehmann, Hartmut


    (University of Bologna)

  • Wadsworth, Jonathan


    (Royal Holloway, University of London)

The increase in wage inequality in Russia during its transition process has far exceeded the increase in wage dispersion observed in other European countries undergoing transition. Russia also has an extremely large incidence of wage arrears. We analyse to what extent wage arrears affect the wage distribution and measures of wage inequality in Russia. We present counterfactual distributions, derived from a variety of different methods, which suggest that conventional measures of earnings dispersion would be some 20 to 30 per cent lower in the absence of arrears. We then go on to show how wage gaps at various points in the pay distribution across gender, education, region and industry are influenced by a failure to allow for wage arrears. Using our counterfactual estimates we show, for example, that the median gender wage gap would be around twenty-five points higher than the actual gap that we observe. Similarly, the counterfactual ratio of mean graduate pay to mean pay of those with primary education is around twenty points lower than observed. We show that the parameters of the counterfactual wage distributions are very similar to the parameters of the observed wage distributions of those not in arrears. This means that for those wishing to study aspects of wage differentials and inequality in Russia, it may be feasible to use the subset of those not in arrears and still get close to the true population parameters.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 410.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2001
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2007, 26, 125-155
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp410
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  1. A Aquisti & H Lehmann & Jonathan Wadsworth, 1998. "Grime and Punishment: Job Insecurity and Wage Arrears in the Russian Federation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0403, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Lehmann, Hartmut & Wadsworth, Jonathan & Acquisti, Alessandro, 1999. "Grime and Punishment: Insecurity and Wage Arrears in the Russian Federation," IZA Discussion Papers 65, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 1998. "Winners and Losers in Russia's Economic Transition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1094-1116, December.
  4. Constantin G. Ogloblin, 1999. "The Gender earnings differential in the Russian transition economy," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(4), pages 602-627, July.
  5. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  6. Earle, John S. & Peter, Klara Sabirianova, 2000. "Equilibrium Wage Arrears: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Institutional Lock-In," IZA Discussion Papers 196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Petra E. Todd & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2001. "Reconciling Conflicting Evidence on the Performance of Propensity-Score Matching Methods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 112-118, May.
  8. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 791-836, August.
  9. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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