This article sets out to examine changes in the structure of men’s wages in the 1980s, on a regional basis. The analysis corroborates evidence presented by other authors of a rising return to skill in the United States during the decade. It also demonstrates that the changes in wage structure were not uniform across regions.
The wages of college graduates rose in all regions relative to the less educated, but to varying extents and perhaps for different reasons. The study finds that changes in relative supplies of labor were generally not behind the rising returns to skill. Rising returns to college education coincided with increases in the supply of more educated workers, indicating increased relative demand for such workers.