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The Structure of Occupational Inequality


Bielby, William T. & Kalleberg, Arne L. (1981). The Structure of Occupational Inequality. Quality and Quantity, 15(2), 125-150.


By examining the interrelationships among the requirements, resources, and rewards associated with occupational positions, we have attempted to construct a preliminary account of the “structure” underlying the process of individual attainment. Using data on 40 occupational groups aggregated from the 1972–73 Quality of Employment Survey, we first described the patterns of inequality for each of the three dimensions and then examined the interrelationships among the dimensions. A discriminant analysis revealed that occupational rewards are differentiated along two dimensions. The first dimension differentiates occupations highly rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically from those having little of either type of reward. The second differentiates occupations according to the “trade-offs” between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Assessing the determinants of inequality of occupational rewards, Assessing the determinants of inequality of occupational rewards, we found technical requirements to be strongly related to both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards but with a larger impact on the former. In contrast, occupational groups appear to use resources of authority and organized bargaining intrinsically from the nature of the occupational task. The patterns of determinants of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are quite different and cannot be represented by a process with a single unobservable mediating construct.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Quality and Quantity


Bielby, William T.
Kalleberg, Arne L.