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Wage Progression Among Less Skilled Workers


  • Tricia Lynn Gladden
  • Christopher R. Taber


Despite the large amount of work in labor economics devoted towards wage progress we know surprisingly little about the mechanics of wage growth, particularly among low skilled workers. This paper takes a step in this direction by examining wage progression between and among moderate to low skilled workers. We find that once true labor market experience is taken into account appropriately, there are not large differences in earnings growth between low skilled workers and medium skilled workers despite the substantial difference in wage levels. In particular the return to experience for high school dropouts is almost exactly the same as the return for high school graduates. This return also does not differ across individuals from different family backgrounds. However, we do find differences between blacks and whites, and men and women.

Suggested Citation

  • Tricia Lynn Gladden & Christopher R. Taber, 1999. "Wage Progression Among Less Skilled Workers," JCPR Working Papers 72, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:72

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, "undated". "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," IPR working papers 97-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    3. David Neumark, 1998. "Youth Labor Markets in the U.S.: Shopping Around vs. Staying Put," NBER Working Papers 6581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Flinn, Christopher J, 1986. "Wages and Job Mobility of Young Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 88-110, June.
    5. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
    6. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    7. Altonji, Joseph G. & Blank, Rebecca M., 1999. "Race and gender in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 48, pages 3143-3259 Elsevier.
    8. Audrey Light & Kathleen McGarry, 1998. "Job Change Patterns And The Wages Of Young Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 276-286, May.
    9. Jacob Mincer & Boyan Jovanovic, 1981. "Labor Mobility and Wages," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in Labor Markets, pages 21-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-479.
    11. Light, Audrey & Ureta, Manuelita, 1995. "Early-Career Work Experience and Gender Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 121-154, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Blau, 2003. "Child Care Subsidy Programs," NBER Chapters,in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 443-516 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. LaDonna Pavetti & Gregory Acs, 2001. "Moving Up, Moving Out, or Going Nowhere? A Study of the Employment Patterns of Young Women and the Implications for Welfare Mothers," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 721-736.

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