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Diverging Male Wage Inequality in the United States and Canada, 1981-1988: Do Institutions Explain the Difference?

John Dinardo and Thomas Lemieux
ILR Review
Vol. 50, No. 4 (Jul., 1997), pp. 629-651
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/2525266
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2525266
Page Count: 23
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Diverging Male Wage Inequality in the United States and Canada, 1981-1988: Do Institutions Explain the Difference?
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Abstract

The U.S. and Canadian economies have much in common, including similar collective bargaining structures. During the period 1981-88, however, although both countries witnessed a decline in the percentage of workers belonging to unions and an increase in hourly wage inequality, those changes were much more pronounced in the United States than in Canada. Using data on men in Canada and the United States in 1981 and 1988 (from the Labour Force Survey and supplements to the Current Population Survey), the authors study the effect of labor market institutions on changes in wage inequality by computing simple counterfactuals such as the distribution of wages that would prevail if all workers were paid according to the observed nonunion wage schedule. Their results suggest that much more severe declines in the unionization rate in the United States than in Canada account for two-thirds of the differential growth in wage inequality between the two countries.

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