Changes in the characteristics and skills of British youths between the mid-1980s and
mid-2000s are evaluated using a method recently developed by Altonji et al. The
main finding is that skills have increased over time in successive cohorts of young
people. The improvement is, however, uneven, and those at the bottom end of the
skills distribution have benefitted less than others. This implies, other things being
equal, that the distribution of earnings will widen over the coming years.