IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Firm Heterogeneity in Capital/Labor Ratios and Wage Inequality

  • Leonardi, Marco


    (University of Milan)

This paper provides some empirical evidence and a theory of the relationship between residual wage inequality and the increasing dispersion of capital/labor ratios across firms. I document the increasing variance of capital/labor ratios across firms in the US labor market. I also show that the increase in the capital intensity variance across firms is associated with the increasing wage variance across workers. To explain this empirical fact, I adopt a search model where firms differ in their optimal capital investment. The decline in the relative price of equipment capital makes the firm distribution of capital/labor ratios more dispersed. In a frictional labor market, this force generates wage dispersion among identical workers. Simple calibration of the model indicates that the dispersion of capital/labor ratios can account for about one third of the total increase in residual wage inequality.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 909.

in new window

Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2007, 117 (518), 375-398
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp909
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell & Giovanni L. Violante, 2002. "Vintage capital as an origin of inequalities," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  2. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  3. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1992. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-industry Wage Differentials?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 515-35, July.
  6. Jill Constantine & David Neumark, 1994. "Training and the Growth of Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4729, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Peter Cappelli & Steffi L Wilk, 1997. "Understanding Selection Processes: Organization Determinants and Performance Outcomes," Working Papers 97-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:297-338 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-22, April.
  10. Timothy Dunne & Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Kenneth Troske, 2000. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion in U.S. Manufacturing: The Role of Computer Investment," Working Papers 00-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  11. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:2:p:469-497 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  13. repec:oup:restud:v:61:y:1994:i:3:p:457-75 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. John M. Abowd & Robert H. Creecy & Francis Kramarz, 2002. "Computing Person and Firm Effects Using Linked Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  15. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  16. Kremer, M & Maskin, E, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill," Working papers 96-23, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  17. repec:oup:restud:v:59:y:1992:i:3:p:515-35 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:1:p:253-90 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. repec:oup:qjecon:v:106:y:1991:i:1:p:163-79 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp909. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.