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The Fortune of One's Birth: Relative Cohort Size and the Youth Labor Market in the United States

Using two different measures of relative cohort size--one indicating the size and placement of an individual's own birth cohort, and the other the ratio of young to prime-age adults in the United States in that year--it has been possible to isolate strong effects of the population age structure on wages in the United States over the past 33 years. These effects have been strong enough that virtually all of the observed change in the experience premium, and a substantial proportion of the changes in the college wage premium, can be explained by the relative cohort size variables alone. Even changes in the amount of within-group variance in wages appear to be largely a function of changing age structure, and absolute wage levels have been strongly affected by these demographic changes, suggesting that population growth can have positive effects on the economy.

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Paper provided by Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University in its series Center for Policy Research Working Papers with number 6.

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Length: 59 pages
Date of creation: Mar 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:max:cprwps:6
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  1. Mark Berger, 1989. "Demographic Cycles, Cohort Size, and Earnings," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 311-321, May.
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  8. Barnes, Roberta & Gillingham, Robert, 1984. "Demographic Effects in Demand Analysis: Estimation of the Quadratic Expenditure System Using Microdata," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(4), pages 591-601, November.
  9. Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S65-97, October.
  10. Deaton, Angus S & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier & Thomas, Duncan, 1989. "The Influence of Household Composition on Household Expenditure Patterns: Theory and Spanish Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 179-200, February.
  11. Kelley, Allen C., 1969. "Demographic Cycles and Economic Growth: The Long Swing Reconsidered," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(04), pages 633-656, December.
  12. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Weil, David N., 1989. "The baby boom, the baby bust, and the housing market," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 235-258, May.
  13. Lazear, Edward P. & Michael, Robert T., 1988. "Allocation of Income within the Household," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226469669.
  14. Kevin Murphy & Mark Plant & Finis Welch, 1984. "Cohort Size and Earnings," UCLA Economics Working Papers 352, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Macunovich, D.J., 1996. "Relative Income and Price of Time: Exploring their effcts on U.S. Fertility and Female Labor Force Participation, 1963-1993," Department of Economics Working Papers 174, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  16. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1997. "Cohort Crowding and Youth Labor Markets: A Cross-National Analysis," NBER Working Papers 6031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Ray C. Fair & Diane J. Macunovich, 1996. "Explaining the Labor Force Participation of Women 20-24," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1116, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  18. Pollak, Robert A & Wales, Terence J, 1981. "Demographic Variables in Demand Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1533-51, November.
  19. Mark C. Berger, 1984. "Cohort size and the earnings growth of young workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(4), pages 582-591, July.
  20. Leff, Nathaniel H, 1969. "Dependency Rates and Savings Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(5), pages 886-96, December.
  21. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-43, May.
  22. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
  23. Jacob Mincer, 1991. "Human Capital, Technology, and the Wage Structure: What Do Time Series Show?," NBER Working Papers 3581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. McMillan, Henry M. & Baesel, Jerome B., 1990. "The macroeconomic impact of the baby boom generation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 167-195.
  25. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  26. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
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