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“An examination of the workplace generation of earnings inequalities in eleven high income countries”

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst


We exploit a massive assemblage of longitudinal linked employer-employee administrative data for eleven countries (Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden and the United States) over a quarter century to explore the workplace generation of earnings inequalities. We ask three questions. Is inequality rising in all countries? What is the contribution of between workplace earnings polarization to rising inequality? How are these trends moderated by national variation in labor market institutions? Focusing primarily on all job-person matches we find that countries vary a great deal in their levels and trends in inequality, but that between firm inequalities are growing in most countries. We find that this trend is widespread, although it’s strength and sectoral location varies widely across countries, and in no place is this pattern as extreme as it is in the U.S. At the same time between workplace inequalities are lower in countries with stronger institutional employment protections and rise faster when these labor market protections weaken. These institutional shelters while once strong, now provide only weak checks on within workplace inequality dynamics.

Learn more: ucrpoliticaleconomy.ucr.edu