Explaining UK wage inequality in the past globalisation period, 1880–1913
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- Betrán, C., Ferri, J. & Pons, M.A. Cliometrica (2010) 4: 19. doi:10.1007/s11698-009-0038-z
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The current era of globalisation has witnessed a rising premium paid to skilled workers resulting in increasing wage inequality in most OECD countries. This pattern differs from that observed during the past globalisation period (1880–1913), in which wage inequality decreased in most of the Old World countries. The present debate over wage inequality focuses on the implications of globalisation, technological change, the role of labour market institutions and education. Similar factors were at work in the past globalisation process. In order to disentangle the main factors that contribute to wage inequality, we calibrate a general equilibrium model for the UK economy in the past globalisation period. The results show that a trade shock and a skilled-biased technology shock increased wage inequality. However, education and emigration had a more significant impact and led to a decrease in wage inequality.