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Meritocracy in America: An Examination of Wages Within and Across Occupations

  • John Cawley
  • James Heckman
  • Edward Vytlacil

In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray argue that the U.S. economy is a meritocracy in which differences in wages (including differences across race and gender) are explained by differences in cognitive ability. In this paper we test their claim for wages conditional on occupation using a simultaneous model of occupation choice and wage determination. Our results contradict Herrnstein and Murray's claim that the U.S. labor market operates only on meritocratic principles.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6446.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6446.

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Date of creation: Mar 1998
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Publication status: published as Cawley, John, James Heckman and Edward Vytlacil. "Meritocracy in America: An Examination of Wages Within and Across Occupations." Industrial Relations, July 1999, 38(3): 250-296.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6446
Note: LS
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  1. Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
  2. Heckman, James & Scheinkman, Jose, 1987. "The Importance of Bundling in a Gorman-Lancaster Model of Earnings," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 243-55, April.
  3. Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
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