Labor income inequalities in Swedish municipalities 1991-2017 : A study on regional effects and possible origins

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för nationalekonomi och statistik (NS)

Abstract: Income inequalities have become a matter of major concern following reports that the working class and lower middle class of developed economies have income levels that are falling behind. Few studies have been conducted on the regional level even though this perspective might better capture the development of income inequalities, since national averages might hide local differences. This study uses panel data for 286 Swedish municipalities in between 1991-2017 and fixed effect regressions, to examine if the theory of a skill-biased technological change could be used to explain resent developments. We find an labor income divergence for Swedish municipalities within the studied time period. The share of high skilled workers is found to be a good predictor of the growth in regional labor income inequalities, while an ageing population of the regions falling behind counteracts the growth of inequality, possibly leading to an underestimation of the size of regional labor income divergence. These results are in support of a skill-biased technological change at work and a job polarization transforming regional labor markets and regional societies. We conclude that adopting a regional perspective in the analysis and development of future economic growth policies is necessary to ensure long term economic growth, equality of opportunity and social cohesion.

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