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Finance Sector Wage Growth and the role of Human Capital

  • Joanne Lindley

    (Department of Management, Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy, King’s College)

  • Steven McIntosh

    ()

    (Department of Economics, The University of Sheffield)

Given the UK finance sector is one of the largest in the world, it provides the perfect setting for a study into the nature of the finance sector wage premium. We reveal the pervasiveness of this premium, across all sub-sectors of finance, and across all occupations within finance, and with the very highest rewards going to 40-49 year old men working in London. Moreover, the UK premium has continued to rise despite the recent financial crisis. Consequently, this study uses rich data from the UK to investigate potential explanations. We find that the financial sector is more skill intensive but also that financial sector workers have higher childhood test scores vis-à-vis non-finance workers. So we investigate to what extent these higher qualifications and higher cognitive skills can explain the financial pay differential. We then go on to consider whether the financial premium is a consequence of differences in job characteristics and thus whether technological change can explain the growth in the premium. While each of these factors has some role to play, we find that none can fully explain the wage premium found in the financial sector, which we find to be pervasive across 17 OECD countries, including the US. We therefore attribute to this to rent-sharing.

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File URL: http://www.shef.ac.uk/economics/research/serps/articles/2014_002.html
File Function: First version, 2014
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Paper provided by The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2014002.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:shf:wpaper:2014002
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  1. Paul Beaudry & Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis, 2010. "Should the Personal Computer Be Considered a Technological Revolution? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(5), pages 988 - 1036.
  2. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Francis Green, 2012. "Employee Involvement, Technology and Evolution in Job Skills: A Task-Based Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 65(1), pages 36-67, January.
  4. Lindley, Joanne & Machin, Stephen, 2012. "The Quest for More and More Education: Implications for Social Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 6581, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-58, December.
  6. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The Skill Content of Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1279-1333.
  7. Thomas Philippon & Ariell Reshef, 2012. "Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Finance Industry: 1909--2006," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1551-1609.
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