The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States

63 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2008 Last revised: 10 Jun 2008

See all articles by Jonathan Heathcote

Jonathan Heathcote

Minneapolis Fed

Kjetil Storesletten

University of Oslo - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Giovanni L. Violante

New York University, Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: June 2008

Abstract

In recent decades, the US wage structure has been transformed by a rising college premium, a narrowing gender gap, and increasing persistent and transitory residual wage dispersion. This paper explores the implications of these changes for cross-sectional inequality in hours worked, earnings and consumption, and for welfare. The framework for the analysis is an incomplete-markets overlapping-generations model in which individuals choose education and form households, and households choose consumption and intra-family time allocation. An explicit production technology underlies equilibrium prices for labor inputs differentiated by gender and education. The model is parameterized using micro data from the PSID, the CPS and the CEX. With the changing wage structure as the only primitive force, the model can account for the key trends in cross-sectional US data. We also assess the role played by education, labor supply, and saving in providing insurance against shocks, and in exploiting opportunities presented by changes in the relative prices of different types of labor.

Suggested Citation

Heathcote, Jonathan and Storesletten, Kjetil and Violante, Giovanni L., The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States (June 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14052. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1142224

Jonathan Heathcote (Contact Author)

Minneapolis Fed ( email )

90 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55480
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jonathanheathcote.com

Kjetil Storesletten

University of Oslo - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 1095 Blindern
N-0317 Oslo
Norway
+47 2284 4009 (Phone)
+47 2285 5035 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://folk.uio.no/kjstore/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Giovanni L. Violante

New York University, Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-992-9771 (Phone)
212-995-4186 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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