Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher Us Wage Inequality?

49 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2001

See all articles by Francine D. Blau

Francine D. Blau

Cornell University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Lawrence M. Kahn

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 2001

Abstract

Using microdata from the 1994-6 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS), we examine the role of cognitive skills in explaining higher wage inequality in the US. We find that while the greater dispersion of cognitive test scores in the US plays a part in explaining higher US wage inequality, higher labor market prices (i.e., higher returns to measured human capital and cognitive performance) and greater residual inequality still play important roles for both men and women. And we find that, on average, prices are quantitatively considerably more important than differences in the distribution of test scores in explaining the relatively high level of US wage inequality. This finding holds up when we examine natives only and when we correct for sample selection.

Suggested Citation

Blau, Francine D. and Kahn, Lawrence M., Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher Us Wage Inequality? (April 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8210. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=265304

Francine D. Blau (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Economics ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-4381 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/directory/fdb4/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Lawrence M. Kahn

Cornell University - School of Industrial and Labor Relations ( email )

265 Ives Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-3901
United States
607-255-0510 (Phone)
607-255-4496 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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