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The Value of Working Conditions in the United States and Implications for the Structure of Wages

Author

Listed:
  • Nicole Maestas
  • Kathleen J. Mullen
  • David Powell
  • Till von Wachter
  • Jeffrey B. Wenger

Abstract

This paper documents variation in working conditions among workers in the United States, presents new estimates of how workers value these conditions, and assesses the impact of working conditions on estimates of the wage structure and inequality. We use evidence from a series of stated-preference experiments to estimate workers’ willingness-to-pay for a broad set of job characteristics, which we validate with actual job choices. We find that working conditions vary substantially across workers, play a significant role in job choice decisions, and are central components of the compensation received by workers. Preferences vary by demographic groups and throughout the wage distribution. We find that accounting for differences in preferences for working conditions often exacerbates wage differentials by race, age, and education, and intensifies measures of wage inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicole Maestas & Kathleen J. Mullen & David Powell & Till von Wachter & Jeffrey B. Wenger, 2018. "The Value of Working Conditions in the United States and Implications for the Structure of Wages," NBER Working Papers 25204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25204
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonard I. Nakamura & Diane Coyle, 2019. "Toward a Framework for Time Use, Welfare, and Household Centric Economic Measurement," Working Papers 19-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, revised 12 Feb 2019.
    2. Bart Los & Marcel Timmer, 2018. "Measuring Bilateral Exports of Value Added: A Unified Framework," NBER Chapters, in: The Challenges of Globalization in the Measurement of National Accounts, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Clemens, Jeffrey, 2019. "Making Sense of the Minimum Wage: A Roadmap for Navigating Recent Research," MPRA Paper 94324, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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