International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions Versus Market Forces

JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol. 104, No. 4, August 1996

Posted: 20 May 1998

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

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Abstract

This paper studies the considerably higher level of wage inequality in the United States than in nine other OECD countries. We find that the greater overall U.S. wage dispersion primarily reflects substantially more compression at the bottom of the wage distribution in the other countries. While differences in the distribution of measured characteristics help to explain some aspects of the international differences, higher U.S. prices (i.e., rewards to skills and rents) are an important factor. Labor market institutions, chiefly the relatively decentralized wage- setting mechanisms in the United States, provide the most persuasive explanation for these patterns.

JEL Classification: J31, J51

Suggested Citation

Blau, Francine D. and Kahn, Lawrence M., International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions Versus Market Forces. JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY, Vol. 104, No. 4, August 1996. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3117

Francine D. Blau

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 )

Mohrenstra├če 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Lawrence M. Kahn (Contact Author)

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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