Effects of Relative Cohort Size on Inequality and the Overall Structure of Wages

Diane J. Macunovich

in Birth Quake

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2002 | ISBN: 9780226500836
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226500928 | DOI:
Effects of Relative Cohort Size on Inequality and the Overall Structure of Wages

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This chapter analyzes the wages at all age levels throughout the workforce. It tries to identify whether the age structure of the population has had a significant effect on the primary dimensions of inequality in the United States over the last thirty-five years: on the return to experience, the return to skill, hours and weeks worked, and on the general structure of wages and level of inequality. Changing relative cohort size can explain a significant proportion of the variation over time in measures of work intensity, such as hours and weeks worked and the proportion working full time, at all levels of experience. Cohort size effects—on wages, unemployment, and hours and weeks worked—have occurred not just among younger workers, but throughout the labor force. Furthermore, changing relative cohort size has been a major factor increasing all types of inequality in the society over the past few decades.

Keywords: wages; inequality; United States; relative cohort size; work intensity; unemployment; labor force

Chapter.  4373 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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