Wage Inequality and Industrial Change: Evidence from Five Decades
Using data from the 1940-1980 Decennial Census and the 1988-1992 March Current Population Surveys, this paper examines the impact of industrial change on male wage inequality over a period of five decades (1940-1990). Alternative measures of skill such as the wage percentile, education and occupation indicate that wage inequality between more and less skilled male workers fell substantially during the 1940s and increased most dramatically during the 1980s. Examination of industrial change over this longer time period shows that the demand for the most highly educated and skilled male workers relative to the least skilled male workers increased no faster during the 1970s and the 1980s than during the earlier decades. In contrast, the demand for men in the middle skill categories (such as those in basic manufacturing) expanded during the 1940s and the 1950s and contracted severely during the 1970s and 1980s. This suggests that the growth of jobs in the middle skill categories may be closely related to overall wage inequality. Cross sectional regressions based on state level data also show some empirical support for the hypothesis that a decline in demand for medium skilled groups increases overall wage inequality.
|Date of creation:||Mar 1994|
|Publication status:||published as Industrial Labor Relations Review, Vol. 52 (April 1999).|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Richard B. Freeman, 1975. "Overinvestment in College Training?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 10(3), pages 287-311.
- Bound, John & Holzer, Harry J, 1993.
"Industrial Shifts, Skills Levels, and the Labor Market for White and Black Males,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 75(3), pages 387-396, August.
- John Bound & Harry J. Holzer, 1991. "Industrial Shifts, Skills Levels, and the Labor Market for White and Black Males," NBER Working Papers 3715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
- McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom & Richard B. Freeman, 1989. "The Declining Economic Position of Less-Skilled American Males," NBER Working Papers 3186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- George J. Borjas & Valerie A. Ramey, 1993. "Foreign Competition, Market Power and Wage Inequality: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1997. "Unemployment and Nonemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 295-300, May.
- Katz, Lawrence F. & Revenga, Ana L., 1989. "Changes in the structure of wages: The United States vs Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 522-553, December. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4684. 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: ()
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.