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Short and Long Run Decompositions of OECD Wage Inequality Changes

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This paper focuses on the causes of increased wage inequality in OECD countries in recent years and its decomposition into the component factors of trade surges in low wage products and technological change that has preoccupied the trade and wages literature. It argues that the length of production run and degree of fixity of factors is crucial in such analyses. In particular, if the observed wage inequality response to price and technology shocks reflects a short-run response in which factors and output have not adjusted fully across industries, then decomposition analysis of the causes of the observed increases in inequality is substantially altered relative to a long-run factors mobile world. This conclusion applies both when one type of labour has mobility costs and in the Ricardo-Viner case where there is an additional, sectorally immobile factor. Furthermore, only small departures from the fully mobile model can greatly change decompositions. This finding is important because most data used in earlier work are interpreted as reflective of a long-run full mobility response, when this may not be the case. Incorrect conclusions as to how trade surges and technology contribute to wage inequality can be easily drawn, if the data are in fact generated by a short-run adjustment process.

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  • T. Huw Edwards & John Whalley, 2003. "Short and Long Run Decompositions of OECD Wage Inequality Changes," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20032, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwo:uwowop:20032
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    Cited by:

    1. Iain Fraser & Robert Waschik, 2010. "The Double Dividend Hypothesis in a CGE Model: Specific Factors and Variable Labour Supply," Working Papers 2010.02, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
    2. T. Huw Edwards, 2006. "Search and the Path-Dependency of Trade," Discussion Paper Series 2006_12, Department of Economics, Loughborough University, revised May 2006.
    3. Gokhan Akay, 2009. "New Look on the Specific Factor Model: Empirical Evidence from Manufacturing Industries in Tanzania," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 211-226.
    4. Sahoo, A., 2008. "Essays on the Indian economy : Competitive pressure, productivity and performance," Other publications TiSEM 374e9035-815c-43fe-a68e-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    trade; wages; technology; inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • C68 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Computable General Equilibrium Models

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