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Post-Secondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality

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  • Thomas Lemieux

Abstract

The paper presents descriptive evidence from quantile regressions and more "structural" estimates from a human capital model with heterogenous returns to show that most of the increase in wage inequality between 1973 and 2005 is due to a dramatic increase in the return to post-secondary education. The model with heterogenous returns also helps explain why both the relative wages and the within-group dispersion among highly-educated workers have increased in tandem over time. These findings add to the growing evidence that, far from being ubiquitous, changes in wage inequality are increasingly concentrated in the very top end of the wage distribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Post-Secondary Education and Increasing Wage Inequality," NBER Working Papers 12077, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12077
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Olivier Deschenes, 2001. "Unobserved Ability, Comparative Advantage, and the Rising Return to Education in the United States: A Cohort-Based Approach," Working Papers 835, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Olivier Deschenes, 2001. "Unobserved Ability, Comparative Advantage, and the Rising Return to Education in the United States: A Cohort-Based Approach," Working Papers 835, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
    4. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
    5. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," NBER Working Papers 11628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    7. repec:fth:prinin:456 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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 410-442, June.
    9. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    10. repec:cdl:ucsbec:12-01 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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