What Do We Really Know about Changes in Wage Inequality?

Thomas Lemieux

in Labor in the New Economy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780226001432
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226001463 | DOI:
What Do We Really Know about Changes in Wage Inequality?

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This chapter discusses the changes in wage inequality over the last thirty years. It tries to identify in the clearest possible way, using Current Population Survey (CPS) data, what have been the main changes in inequality and the wage structure since the early 1970s. The purpose of this exercise is to establish the basic facts about the variety of measurement problems and identify changes in wage inequality. These measurement problems include topcoding, the growing nonresponse to earnings item in the CPS. The pattern of change in inequality across education groups is highly consistent with the broader changes at the top and low ends of the distribution. The mean wages of college graduates and postgraduates increased steadily relative to high school graduates, though the growth was more marked in the 1980s.

Keywords: wage inequality; current population survey; educational attainment; earnings; wage differences

Chapter.  15186 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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