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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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  8. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 2000. "Cohort Crowding and Youth Labor Markets (A Cross-National Analysis)," NBER Chapters, in: Youth Employment and Joblessness in Advanced Countries, pages 57-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. 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.
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  22. 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.
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  26. 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.
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