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Working Paper No. 293 | December 1999

Employment Inequalities

This paper documents the employment disadvantage faced by the less qualified part of the labor force and examines the factors that influence the differing extent of this disadvantage across OECD countries. We argue that employment rates for quartiles of the population ranked by educational qualification provide the best measure of employment disadvantage. We show that differences in these employment rates for the most- and least-educated quartiles vary substantially within Europe, but are not on average higher than those in the USA. The least qualified suffer the greatest employment disadvantage in countries in which the overall employment rates are low and, for men, the literacy test scores for the least qualified are relatively low. A high level of imports from the South appears to be associated with greater employment disadvantage, but there is no discernible tendency for a high level of wage dispersion, low benefits, or weak employment protection legislation to be associated with greater employment disadvantage. Labor market flexibility has not been the route by which some OECD countries have managed to minimize the employment disadvantage of the least qualified.

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Author(s):
Andrew Glyn Wiemer Salverda

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