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Wage Inequality Trends in Europe and the USA

Yağanoğlu, Nazmi Yükselen
There was a well documented surge of wage inequality in the US that started from mid-70s and continued in 80s, slowing down by mid-90s, caused by increased dispersion both between and within groups of people with similar personal characteristics and skills. We analyze the US wage inequality in the more recent years to see if this trend continues. We apply the decomposition technique of Juhn, Murphy and Pierce (1993) and quantile regression to March Current Population Survey data of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data and Luxembourg Income Study data for a few selected European countries. We find that the increase in wage inequality continues during the 90s, especially in the second half. In addition, the focus of wage inequality shifts into the upper half of the wage distribution after mid-80s. The European countries do not show a common trend in the direction of wage inequality during the 90s. However, the focus of their wage inequality seems to be shifting towards the lower half of the wage distribution as opposed to that of US.