Demographic Change and the Structure of Wages: A Demand-Theoretic Analysis for Brazil
NBER Working Paper No. 13533
With rapidly declining fertility and increased longevity the age structure of the labor force in developing countries has changed rapidly. Changing relative supply of workers by age group, and by educational attainment, can have profound effects on labor costs. Their impacts on earnings have been heavily studied in the United States but have received little attention in Asia and Latin America, where supply shocks are at least as large and have often proceeded less evenly across the economy. We use data on 502 local Brazilian labor markets from Censuses 1970-2000 to examine the extent of substitution among demographic groups as relative supply has changed. The results suggest that age-education groups are imperfect substitutes, so that larger age-education cohorts see depressed wage rates, particularly among more-educated groups. The extent of substitution has increased over time, so that the decreasing size of the least-skilled labor force today is barely raising its remaining members' wages.