Wage Gaps and Development: Lessons from U.S. History

 
Author/Editor: Mourmouras, Alex ; Rangazas, Peter
 
Publication Date: May 01, 2007
 
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Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate
 
Summary: During the course of development, wages and labor productivity are much higher in the nonfarm sectors of the economy than in agriculture. In this paper, we examine the sources and consequences of wage and productivity gaps in the U.S. from 1800 to 2000. We build a quantitative general equilibrium model that closely matches the two-century long paths of farm and non-farm labor productivity growth, schooling, and fertility in the U.S. The family farm emerges as an important institution that contributes to differences in wages and labor productivity. Income from farm ownership compensates farm workers for the relatively low labor productivity and wages earned in agriculture. Farm ownership, along with the higher cost of raising children off the farm, generated a two-fold gap in labor productivity across the farm and nonfarm sectors in the 19th century US. Consequently, the reallocation of labor from farming to industry raised the average annual growth rate of output per worker by about half a percentage point over the 19th century. The paper also draws some lessons from the quantitative analysis of U.S. economic history for currently developing countries.
 
Series: Working Paper No. 07/105
Subject(s): Wages | United States | Development | Labor productivity | Poverty | Education | Agricultural income | Economic models

 
English
Publication Date: May 01, 2007
ISBN/ISSN: 1934-7073 Format: Paper
Stock No: WPIEA2007105 Pages: 45
Price:
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