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The fortunes of one's birth: Relative cohort size and the youth labor market in the United States

Diane Macunovich ()

Journal of Population Economics, 1999, vol. 12, issue 2, 215-272

Abstract: Using two different measures of relative cohort size - one indicating the size and placement of an individual's own birth cohort, and the other, the ratio of young to prime age adults in the United States in that year - it has been possible to isolate strong effects of the population age structure on wages in the United States over the past thirty-three years. These effects have been strong enough that virtually all of the observed change in the experience premium, and a substantial proportion of the changes in the college wage premium, can be explained by the relative cohort size variables alone. Even changes in the amount of within-group variance in wages appear to be largely a function of changing age structure, and absolute wage levels have been strongly affected by these demographic changes, suggesting that population growth can have positive effects on the economy.

Keywords: Wages; ·; cohort; size; ·; youth; labor; market (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J21 J23 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1999-06-17
Note: Received: 27 January 1998/Accepted: 6 June 1998 received from the people at the Maxwell Center, financial support through an NIA Fellowship, and Richard Easterlin's inspiration and support - and thanks Lee Lillard for providing her first opportunity to work with the CPS on `youth labor markets'. More detailed information on the work presented here - including results for African Americans and for those not working full time, as well as for other experience groups - are available in Macunovich, 1998. Responsible editor: Klaus F. Zimmermann-->
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