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Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach

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  • John DiNardo
  • Nicole M. Fortin
  • Thomas Lemieux

Abstract

This paper presents a semiparametric procedure to analyze the effects of institutional and labor market factors on recent changes in the U.S. distribution of wages. The effects of these factors are estimated by applying kernel density methods to appropriately 'reweighted' samples. The procedure provides a visually clear representation of where in the density of wages these various factors exert the greatest impact. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we find, as in previous research, that de-unionization and supply and demand shocks were important factors in explaining the rise in wage inequality from 1979 to 1988. We find also compelling visual and quantitative evidence that the decline in the real value of the minimum wage explains a substantial proportion of this increase in wage inequality, particularly for women. We conclude that labor market institutions are as important as supply and demand considerations in explaining changes in the U.S. distribution of wages from 1979 to 1988.

Suggested Citation

  • John DiNardo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1995. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 5093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5093
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    1. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
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    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Richard B. Freeman & Casey Ichniowski & Jeffrey Zax, 1988. "Appendix A: Collective Organization of Labor in the Public Sector," NBER Chapters, in: When Public Sector Workers Unionize, pages 365-398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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