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Wage Differentials Are Larger Than You Think


  • Edward P. Lazear


This paper will employ a method (devised in Lazear [1976] ) to estimate the unobserved component of wages. The size of this component will be calculated for non-whites and whites separately and then compared. Since, as it turns out, the component is larger for whites than non-whites, observed wage differentials understate true differentials. Furthermore, comparison of the period between1966-1969 with the 1972-1974 period reveals that this unobserved differential increased substantially over time. The results of this study suggest that although the pecuniary non-white -- white differential has narrowed substantially between 1966 and 1974 for young men, the on-the-job training differential has increased by almost the exact same amount. This implies that in real wealth terms there has not been any narrowing of the differential at all. This will become more apparent in later years as those non-whites who were hired into skilled jobs today fail to be promoted or obtain higher paying jobs elsewhere at the same rate as their white counterparts.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear, 1977. "Wage Differentials Are Larger Than You Think," NBER Working Papers 0168, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0168

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    1. Haley, William J, 1973. "Human Capital: The Choice Between Investment and Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(5), pages 929-944, December.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Johnson, George E, 1972. "Unionism, Relative Wages, and Labor Quality in U.S. Manufacturing Industries," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 488-508, October.
    3. S. Rosen, 1969. "Trade Union Power, Threat Effects and the Extent of Organization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(2), pages 185-196.
    4. Welch, Finis, 1973. "Black-White Differences in Returns to Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(5), pages 893-907, December.
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