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Changes in Human Capital and Wage Inequality in Mexico


  • Gurleen K. Popli

    () (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)


Over the last two decades Mexico has witnessed a significant increase in wage inequality, typically attributed to the increase in relative demand for skilled labor. Over this period the educational achievements and their distribution across the labor force have also changed substantially. In this paper we analyze the impact of changes in human capital on wage inequality in Mexico. We focus our analysis on decomposing (1) the level of inequality in any given year and (2) change in inequality over time, into observable (e.g. age, education, occupation, etc.) and unobservable differences across workers. The main findings of this paper are: unobservable factors (within group inequality) account for most of the inequality in any given year. Among the observable factors human capital emerges as the most important variables in explaining the level of, and changes in, inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Gurleen K. Popli, 2007. "Changes in Human Capital and Wage Inequality in Mexico," Working Papers 2007001, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2007001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Fairris & Gurleen Popli & Eduardo Zepeda, 2008. "Minimum Wages and the Wage Structure in Mexico," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 66(2), pages 181-208.
    2. Behrman, Jere R & Deolalikar, Anil B, 1991. "School Repetition, Dropouts, and the Rates of Return to Schooling: The Case of Indonesia," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(4), pages 467-480, November.
    3. Binder, Melissa & Woodruff, Christopher, 2002. "Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility in Schooling: The Case of Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(2), pages 249-267, January.
    4. Feenstra, Robert C. & Hanson, Gordon H., 1997. "Foreign direct investment and relative wages: Evidence from Mexico's maquiladoras," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-4), pages 371-393, May.
    5. David Fairris, 2003. "Unions and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 481-497, April.
    6. Gordon H. Hanson & Ann Harrison, 1999. "Trade Liberalization and Wage Inequality in Mexico," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 271-288, January.
    7. 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.
    8. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    9. Lerman, Robert I. & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1989. "Improving the accuracy of estimates of Gini coefficients," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 43-47, September.
    10. Cortez, Willy W., 2001. "What is Behind Increasing Wage Inequality in Mexico?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1905-1922, November.
    11. Cragg, Michael Ian & Epelbaum, Mario, 1996. "Why has wage dispersion grown in Mexico? Is it the incidence of reforms or the growing demand for skills?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 99-116, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez & Nora Lustig, 2017. "Labour income inequality in Mexico: Puzzles solved and unsolved," WIDER Working Paper Series 186, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Raymundo M. Campos-Vázquez, 2013. "Why did wage inequality decrease in Mexico after NAFTA?," Economía Mexicana NUEVA ÉPOCA, , vol. 0(2), pages 245-278, July-Dece.
    3. Claudia Tello & Raul Ramos & Manuel Artís, 2012. "“Changes in Wage Structure in Mexico Going Beyond the Mean: An Analysis of Differences in Distribution, 1987-2008”," AQR Working Papers 201211, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Mar 2013.

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