Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality?

29 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2004

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: February 2004

Abstract

Using microdata from the 1994-8 International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) for nine countries, we examine the role of cognitive skills in explaining higher wage inequality in the United States. We find that while the greater dispersion of cognitive test scores in the United States plays a part in explaining higher U.S. 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, and are, on average, quantitatively considerably more important than differences in the distribution of test scores in explaining higher U.S. wage inequality.

JEL Classification: J31, J24

Suggested Citation

Blau, Francine D. and Kahn, Lawrence M., Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality? (February 2004). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 1139. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=521423

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 )

Mohrenstraße 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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