Meritocracy in America: An Examination of Wages within and Across Occupations

48 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2000 Last revised: 8 Oct 2010

See all articles by John Cawley

John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics; The University of Sydney - School of Economics; National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics; NBER; IZA

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Edward Vytlacil

Yale University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 1998

Abstract

In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray argue that the U.S. economy is a meritocracy in which differences in wages (including differences across race and gender) are explained by differences in cognitive ability. In this paper we test their claim for wages conditional on occupation using a simultaneous model of occupation choice and wage determination. Our results contradict Herrnstein and Murray's claim that the U.S. labor market operates only on meritocratic principles.

Suggested Citation

Cawley, John and Heckman, James J. and Vytlacil, Edward J., Meritocracy in America: An Examination of Wages within and Across Occupations (March 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6446. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226192

John Cawley (Contact Author)

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM) ( email )

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James J. Heckman

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Edward J. Vytlacil

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

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