IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Age, Education and Occupational Earnings Inequality


  • Edward N. Wolff
  • Dennis M. Bushe


In this paper, we will investigate the effect of six factors on occupational earnings inequality across all occupations in our sample and across occupations in five major Census subgroups. Those six factors are: differences in tasks, different levels of efficiency, institutional factors, time worked, the demand for labor and discrimination. Age and schooling will receive primary attention in our work and it will be shown that they are important determinants of earnings inequality among professional and clerical occupations but not among skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled occupations. Ability is also hypothesized as an important factor, but no measure of ability is provided in our sample. Differences in time worked and labor demand conditions, as measured by industrial and urban-rural mix, will also be analyzed, and their effect on earnings inequality is strong in most of the occupational subsamples. Differences in the race and sex composition of occupations do not appear to be significant factors in occupational earnings inequality, and the explanation offered is that discrimination takes the form of occupational segregation rather than differences in pay for similar work. In the conclusion a sketch of a "structural" theory of income distribution is proposed to account for our results.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward N. Wolff & Dennis M. Bushe, 1976. "Age, Education and Occupational Earnings Inequality," NBER Working Papers 0149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0149

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arthur J. Alexander, 1974. "Income, Experience, and the Structure of Internal Labor Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 63-85.
    2. Wolff, Edward N., 1975. "Social Determinants of Occupational Wage Behavior," Working Papers 75-27, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    3. Hanushek, Eric A, 1973. "Regional Differences in the Structure of Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(2), pages 204-213, May.
    4. Farbman, Michael, 1973. "Income Concentration in the Southern United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(3), pages 333-340, August.
    5. Hause, John C, 1972. "Earnings Profile: Ability and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages 108-138, Part II, .
    6. Johnson, George E & Stafford, Frank P, 1974. "Lifetime Earnings in a Professional Labor Market: Academic Economists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 549-569, May/June.
    7. Katz, David A, 1973. "Faculty Salaries, Promotion, and Productivity at a Large University," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 469-477, June.
    8. Link, Charles R, 1973. "The Quantity and Quality of Education and Their Influence on Earnings: The Case of Chemical Engineers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(2), pages 241-247, May.
    9. Hansen, W Lee & Weisbrod, Burton A & Scanlon, William J, 1970. "Schooling and Earnings of Low Achievers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 409-418, June.
    10. Ruggles, Richard, 1970. "Income Distribution Theory," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 16(3), pages 211-219, September.
    11. Klevmarken, N Anders & Quigley, John M, 1976. "Age, Experience, Earnings, and Investments in Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(1), pages 47-72, February.
    12. Welch, Finis, 1973. "Black-White Differences in Returns to Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(5), pages 893-907, December.
    13. Yoram Barzel, 1973. "The Determination of Daily Hours and Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 220-238.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Edward N. Wolff & Joel Hay, 1977. "Educational Screening and Occupational Earnings," NBER Working Papers 0174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0149. 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: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.