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Changes in the Structure of Wages in the Public and Private Sectors

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  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Alan B. Krueger

Abstract

The wage structure in the U.S. public sector responded sluggishly to substantial changes in private sector wages during the 1970s and 1980s. Despite a large expansion in the college/high school wage differential during the 1980s in the private sector, the public sector college wage premium remained fairly stable. Although wage differentials by skill, in the public sector were fairly unresponsive to changes in the private sector, overall pay levels for state and local government workers were quite sensitive to local labor market conditions. But federal government regional pay levels appear unaffected by local economic conditions. Several possible explanations are considered to account for the rigidity of the government internal wage structure, including employer size, unionization, and nonprofit status. None of these factors adequately explains the pay rigidity we observe in the government.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the Public and Private Sectors," NBER Working Papers 3667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3667
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1995. "The Wage Curve," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026202375x, March.
    2. Borjas, George J, 1980. "Wage Determination in the Federal Government: The Role of Constituents and Bureaucrats," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(6), pages 1110-1147, December.
    3. John Bound & George E. Johnson, 1989. "Changes in the Structure of Wages During the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," NBER Working Papers 2983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Richard B. Freeman, 1980. "Unionism and the Dispersion of Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(1), pages 3-23, October.
    5. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "A Reexamination of the Federal-Private Wage Differential in the United States," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 270-293, April.
    6. Freeman, Richard B, 1977. "The Decline in the Economic Rewards to College Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 59(1), pages 18-29, February.
    7. Preston, Anne E, 1989. "The Nonprofit Worker in a For-Profit World," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 438-463, October.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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