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The changing distribution of male wages in the UK

Journal article | Review of Economic Studies

This paper uses microeconomic data from the U.K. Family Expenditure Surveys (FES) and the General Household Surveys (GHS) to describe and explain changes in the distribution of male wages. Since the late 1970s wage inequality has risen very fast in the U.K., and this rise is characterized both by increasing education and age differentials. We show that a large part of the changes in the U.K. can be summarized quite simply as increases in eduction differentials and a decline of growth of entry level wages which persist subsequently. This fact we interpret as cohort effects. We also show that, like in the U.S., an important aspect of rising wage inequality is increased within-group wage dispersion. Finally we use the GHS to evaluate the role of alternative education measures.