An Analysis of the Evolution of the Skill Premium
Since 1975, an increase in the return to skill (measured by years of education), in the percentage of the labor force that is skilled, and in the variance of wage income within skill categories have characterized the U.S. labor market. While the first two facts point towards an increase in the demand for skilled labor, the third fact establishes that this increase in demand has not been uniform for all members of a particular skill category. Hence, the three stylized facts point toward unobserved skill heterogeneity within education classes. In this paper, we argue that education per se does not measure skill adequately, and we suggest an alternative measure based on the observed skill characteristics of the job. We analyze the return to various dimensions of skill, including formal education. After accounting for other elements of skill, we find that the return to education has been constant since 1970. Moreover, variations in direct measures of skill, such as mathematical ability or eye-hand coordination, account for a substantial fraction of the increased dispersion in income for those with less than a college degree, and some of the increase in wage dispersion among the college educated. Surprisingly, we show that the group who has fared worst in the labor market in the past several decades are those who are educated but unskilled.
|Date of creation:||Aug 1999|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: University of Iowa, Department of Economics, Henry B. Tippie College of Business, Iowa City, Iowa 52242|
Phone: (319) 335-0829
Fax: (319) 335-1956
Web page: http://tippie.uiowa.edu/economics/
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.:
- Welch, F, 1970. "Education in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 35-59, Jan.-Feb..
- Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-68, November.
- Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995.
"General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?,"
Journal of Econometrics,
Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
- David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998.
"Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
- David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," NBER Working Papers 5956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1993. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U.S. Manufacturing Industries: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 4255, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995.
"The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination,"
The Review of Economics and Statistics,
MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
- Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence F, 1996. "Technology, Skill, and the Wage Structure: Insights from the Past," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 252-57, May.
- Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1994.
"A labor-income-based measure of the value of human capital: An application to the States of the United States,"
Economics Working Papers
106, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Dec 1994.
- Mulligan, C. B. & Sala-i-Martin, X., 1997. "A labor income-based measure of the value of human capital: An application to the states of the United States," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 159-191, May.
- Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1995. "A Labor-Income-Based Measure of the Value of Human Capital: An Application to the States of the United States," NBER Working Papers 5018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Mulligan, Casey B & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1995. "A Labour-Income-Based Measure of the Value of Human Capital: An Application to the States of the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 1146, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000.
"Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis,"
Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
- Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
- Ann P. Bartel, 1992. "Training, Wage Growth and Job Performance: Evidence From a Company Database," NBER Working Papers 4027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bartel, Ann P, 1995. "Training, Wage Growth, and Job Performance: Evidence from a Company Database," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 401-25, July.
- Kevin M. Murphy & W. Craig Riddell & Paul M. Romer, 1998. "Wages, Skills, and Technology in the United States and Canada," NBER Working Papers 6638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Greenwood, J. & Yorukoglu, M., 1996.
RCER Working Papers
429, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
- Greenwood, Jeremy & Yorukoglu, Mehmet, 1997. "1974," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 49-95, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:uia:iowaec:99-08. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John Solow)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.