Meritocracy in America: Wages Within and Across Occupations

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Abstract

In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray argue that the U.S. economy is a meritocracy in which differences in wages (including differences across race and gender) are explained by differences in cognitive ability. In this article we test their claim for wages conditional on occupation using a simultaneous model of occupation choice and wage determination. Our results contradict Herrnstein and Murray's claim that the U.S. labor market operates only on meritocratic principles.

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