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Comparing Real Wage Rates

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  • Ashenfelter, Orley

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

A real wage rate is a nominal wage rate divided by the price of a good and is a transparent measure of how much of the good an hour of work buys. It provides an important indicator of the living standards of workers, and also of the productivity of workers. In this paper I set out the conceptual basis for such measures, provide some historical examples, and then provide my own preliminary analysis of a decade long project designed to measure the wages of workers doing the same job in over 60 countries – workers at McDonald’s restaurants. The results demonstrate that the wage rates of workers using the same skills and doing the same jobs differ by as much as 10 to 1, and that these gaps declined over the period 2000-2007, but with much less progress since the Great Recession.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashenfelter, Orley, 2012. "Comparing Real Wage Rates," IZA Discussion Papers 6500, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6500
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    6. David Kunst, 2019. "Deskilling among Manufacturing Production Workers," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-050/VI, Tinbergen Institute, revised 30 Dec 2020.
    7. Ademmer, Esther & Barslund, Mikkel & Benček, David & Di Salvo, Mattia & Groll, Dominik & Hoxhaj, Rezart & Kadkoy, Omar & Lanati, Mauro & Laurentsyeva, Nadzeya & Lücke, Matthias & Ludolph, Lars & Pizzu, 2018. "2018 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe. Flexible Solidarity: A comprehensive strategy for asylum and immigration in the EU," MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe, Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration (MEDAM), number 182240, August.
    8. Clemens, Michael & Pritchett, Lant, 2016. "The New Case for Migration Restrictions: An Assessment," Working Paper Series rwp16-054, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international comparisons; real wage rates; productivity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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