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The Law of the Shrinking Middle: Inequality of Earnings in Australia 1975-1989

John King, R J Rimmer and S M Rimmer

Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 1992, vol. 39, issue 4, 391-412

Abstract: International evidence shows a marked increase in the dispersion of earnings since the 1970s. In this paper the authors review some of this research. Earnings data for Australia indicate that since 1975, the distribution of earnings became significantly less equal there too. This cannot be entirely accounted for by the growth of part-time employment, cyclical influences, demographic change or greater labor market flexibility. In Australia in 1983 an "Accord" was reached between employers, unions and government. One stated aim of this incomes policy was to bring about an equitable redistribution of income, but it did not in fact reverse the trend to rising earnings inequality. On some measures the growth of inequality actually accelerated after 1983, particularly for women working full-time. Copyright 1992 by Scottish Economic Society.

Date: 1992
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Scottish Journal of Political Economy is currently edited by Tim Barmby, Andrew Hughes-Hallett and Campbell Leith

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