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ERIC Number: ED426119
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Sep
Pages: 10
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Meritocracy without Rising Inequality? Wage Rate Differences Are Widening by Education and Narrowing by Gender and Race. Economic Restructuring and the Job Market No. 2.
Lerman, Robert I.
This brief, part of a series on labor trends and their policy implications, uses data on wage rates and hours worked from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to look at two questions about wage inequality since the mid-1980s. One question is whether wage differentials are becoming more related to education and less to gender and race, and the other is how changes in average wage differences among education, gender, and race groups have contributed to changes in overall wage inequality. Wage rates generally grew more or fell less for those with more years of schooling except for the "some college" group. Overall, findings suggest amending the conventional view that rising education differentials are leading to growing wage inequality. The shift in employer demand toward workers with high skill levels has lead to widening wage gaps between more highly education and less educated workers, and, by itself, this trend has influenced the wage distribution toward more inequality. However, as employers have come to attach a higher priority to education, criteria such as race and gender have become less important, so that wage rate gaps by race and gender have lessened. Differences in race and gender differences offset the rising education premium, leaving wage inequality unchanged between 1984 and 1995. An addendum, "More Difficulties with CPS Measures of Trends in Earnings Inequality" by the same author, examines some problems that occur when the Current Population Survey of the Bureau of the Census is used to measure trends in wage rate inequality. These problems do not occur when the SIPP is used. (Contains 4 tables, 1 figure, and 11 references.) (SLD)
The Urban Institute, 2100 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037; Tel: 202-857-8687; Fax: 202-833-7200; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Urban Inst., Washington, D.C.