NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Unobserved Ability, Efficiency Wages, and Interindustry Wage Differentials

McKinley Blackburn, David Neumark

NBER Working Paper No. 3857
Issued in October 1991
NBER Program(s):   LS

Interindustry wage differentials in wage regressions estimated for individuals have been interpreted as evidence consistent with efficiency wage models. A principal competing explanation is that these differentials are generated by differences across workers in unobserved ability. This paper tests the unobserved ability hypothesis .by incorporating test scores into standard wage regressions as error-ridden indicators of unobserved ability. The results indicate that differences in unobserved ability explain relatively little of interindustry or interoccupation wage differentials.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3857

Published: Quarterly Journal of Economics. Volume 107, Issue 4, November 1992, pp. 1421-36

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