We consider changes in the distribution of hourly compensation in Canada using confidential census data and the recent National Household Survey over the last three decades. We find that the coefficient of variation of wages among full-time workers has almost doubled between 1980 and 2010. The rapid growth of the 99.9th percentile is the main driver of that increase. Changes in the composition of the workforce explain less than 25% of the rise in wage inequality. However, composition changes explain most of the increase in average hourly compensation over those three decades, while wages stagnate within skill groups.
wage distribution inequality Canada composition effects