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Institutions, technological change and the wage differentials between skilled and unskilled workers: theory and evidence from Europe

Lorenzo Corsini

No 2008-02, IRISS Working Paper Series from IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD

Abstract: We study the evolution of the wage differentials between graduate (skilled) and non graduate (unskilled) workers in several european countries in the period that range from the beginning of the nineties to the beginning of this century. The starting point is that all european countries show an increasing relative supply of skilled workers but different behaviours of the wage differentials. The standard explanation for non decreasing differentials in the face of rising relative supply is that technological progress is skill biased. This in turn would imply that technological progress differs in its magnitude and effects across Europe. Our finding shows that what is relevant in the determination of the differentials it is the pace and intensity at which technological progress takes place. We turn then to institutions and we build a model of imperfect competition and wage bargaining which relate the differentials to the technological progress but also to several labour market institutions. The empirical analysis on this aspect reveal that employment rates of different groups as well as the union density and the generosity of unemployment benefits are indeed important and help in explaining the evolution of the wage differentials between skilled and unskilled workers.

Keywords: wage differentials; technological changes; Labor Market Institutions (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J31 J51 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 27 pages
Date: 2008-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eec and nep-lab
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (6) Track citations by RSS feed

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Chapter: Institutions, Technological Change and Wage Differentials between Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Theory and Evidence from Europe (2012) Downloads
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