The Decline of Non-Competing Groups: Changes in the Premium to Education, 1890 to 1940
Between 1890 and the late 1920s the premium to high school education declined substantially for both men and women. In 1890 ordinary office workers, whose positions generally required a high school diploma, earned almost twice what production workers did. But by the late 1920s they earned about one and one-half times as much. The premium earned by female office workers, male office workers, and male office workers plus supervisors fell by about 30%. Several factors operated in tandem to narrow differentials to education. The supply of high school graduates relative to those without high school degrees increased by 16% from 1890 to 1910, but by 40% from 1910 to 1920 and by 50% from 1920 to 1930. Immigration restriction is another factor, but is dwarfed by the expansion of high schools; reduced immigrant flows explain just 1/8th of the relative supply increase of educated workers. The impact of rapidly increasing supplies of high school educated workers was reinforced by technological changes in the office that enabled the substitution of educated workers and machines for the exceptionally able. The premium to high school graduation, rather than declining further in the 1930s, levelled off as the demand for high school educated workers expanded in the manufacturing sector. We make comparisons between this historical period of narrowing wage differentials in the face of technological progress in the office and ours of widening differentials.
|Date of creation:||Aug 1995|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
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.:
- Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1991.
"The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid- Century,"
NBER Working Papers
3817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Goldin, Claudia & Margo, Robert A, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34, February.
- David H. Autor, 2001.
"Wiring the Labor Market,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 25-40, Winter.
- Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1994. "Was There a National Labor Market at the End of the Nineteenth Century? Intercity and Interregional Variation in Male Earnings in Manufacturing," NBER Historical Working Papers 0061, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Chamberlain, Gary & Griliches, Zvi, 1975. "Unobservables with a Variance-Components Structure: Ability, Schooling, and the Economic Success of Brothers," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 16(2), pages 422-49, June.
- Chinhui Juhn, 1994. "Wage Inequality and Industrial Change: Evidence from Five Decades," NBER Working Papers 4684, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Berman, Eli & Bound, John & Griliches, Zvi, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-97, May.
- Claudia Goldin, 1994. "Appendix to: "How America Graduated from High School, 1910 to 1960", Construction of State-Level Secondary School Data," NBER Historical Working Papers 0057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Goldin, Claudia, 1992.
"Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women,"
Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
- Claudia Goldin, 1990. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1, July.
- Robert K. Burns, 1954. "The Comparative Economic Position of Manual and White-Collar Employees," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27, pages 257.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5202. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.