chapter  13
Why the Baby-Bust Cohorts Haven't Boomed Yet: A Re-Examination of Cohort Effects on Wage Inequality in the United States
Pages 14

Between 1968 and 1994, inequality in the United States increased 22.4 percent-more than wiping out the 7.4 percent improvement that had occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. Analysts tend to trace a large proportion of this change in family and household income inequality to increasing inequality in male earnings. It is true that the rich have been getting richer and the poor, poorer. As a result, the United States enjoys the unenviable distinction of having the largest inequality of earnings in any developed country. I

What has been the cause of this dramatic deterioration in the relative (and absolute) position oflower-paid workers over the past twenty-five years? There has been no shortage of research addressing this question over the past decade-- the literature is extensive--but as yet there is little consensus regarding the cause(s). Early researchers identified the labor market entry of the post-World War II baby boom as an important factor: a dramatic increase in the supply of younger, less-experienced workers that depressed their wages and generally reduced their employment prospects. In recent years, re-

searchers have focused on other factors such as sectoral shifts ("de industrialization"), technological change such as computerization, and globalization of the economy reflected in immigration and the trade deficit.