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Product Demand Shifts and Wage Inequality

  • Leonardi, Marco

    ()

    (University of Milan)

The UK and the US have experienced both rising skill premia and rising employment of skilled workers since the 1980s. These trends are typically interpreted as concurrent shifts of relative skill supplies and demands, and the demand shifts are attributed to skill-biased technological change or changes in international trade patterns. If more skilled workers demand more skill-intensive goods, then an exogenous increase in relative skill supplies will also induce a shift in relative demand. This channel reduces the need to rely on technology and trade to explain the patterns in the data. I illustrate this mechanism with a simple twosector general equilibrium model. The empirical part demonstrates that in the UK more educated and richer workers demand more skill-intensive goods. Calibration of the model suggests that this induced demand shift can explain 3% of the total relative demand shift in the UK between 1981 and 1997. The baseline model only explains between-industry shifts in skill upgrading and wage inequality, while empirically, most of these changes took place within industries. An extension of the model with different qualities of goods and labor can also explain some of the within-industry changes.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 908.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp908
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  1. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  2. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and changes in skill structure: evidence from seven OECD countries," IFS Working Papers W98/04, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Eli Berman & John Bound & Stephen Machin, 1997. "Implications of Skill-Biased Technological Change: International Evidence," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 78, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  7. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Howard J. Shatz, 1994. "Trade and Jobs in Manufacturing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 1-84.
  9. Acemoglu, Daron, 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Machin, Stephen, 1996. "Wage Inequality in the UK," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 47-64, Spring.
  11. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Labor Market Shifts and the Price Puzzle Revisited," NBER Working Papers 5924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Michael T. Kiley, 1997. "The supply of skilled labor and skill-based technological progress," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  14. Blundell, Richard & Pashardes, Panos & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "What Do We Learn About Consumer Demand Patterns from Micro Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 570-97, June.
  15. Wood, Adrian, 1995. "North-South Trade, Employment and Inequality: Changing Fortunes in a Skill-Driven World," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290155, March.
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