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Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach

  • Dinardo, J.
  • Fortin, N.M.
  • Lemieux, T.

This paper presents a semiparametric procedure to analyze the effects of institutional and labor market factors on recent changes in the U.S. distribution of wages. The effects of these factors are estimated by applying kernel density methods to appropriately 'reweighted' samples. The procedure provides a visually clear representation of where in the density of wages these various factors exert the greatest impact. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we find, as in previous research, that de-unionization and supply and demand shocks were important factors in explaining the rise in wage inequality from 1979 to 1988. We find also compelling visual and quantitative evidence that the decline in the real value of the minimum wage explains a substantial proportion of this increase in wage inequality, particularly for women. We conclude that labor market institutions are as important as supply and demand considerations in explaining changes in the U.S. distribution of wages from 1979 to 1988.

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Paper provided by Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 9406.

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Length: ; 71 pages
Date of creation: 1994
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montde:9406
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  1. Rosen, Sherwin, 1969. "Trade Union Power, Threat Effects and the Extent of Organization," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(106), pages 185-96, April.
  2. John M. Abowd & Henry S. Farber, 1982. "Job queues and the union status of workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(3), pages 354-367, April.
  3. Nidardo, J. & Fortin, N. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Papers 93-94-15, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  4. Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1993. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 45-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Richard B. Freeman & Casey Ichniowski & Jeffrey Zax, 1988. "Appendix A: Collective Organization of Labor in the Public Sector," NBER Chapters, in: When Public Sector Workers Unionize, pages 365-398 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Richard B. Freeman, 1978. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," NBER Working Papers 0248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Katz, Lawrence F. & Revenga, Ana L., 1989. "Changes in the structure of wages: The United States vs Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 522-553, December.
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