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The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?

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  • Bound, John
  • Krueger, Alan B

Abstract

This article examines the properties and prevalence of measurement error in longitudinal earnings data. The analysis compares matched Current Population Survey data to administrative Social Security payroll tax records. In contrast to typically assumed properties of measurement error, the results indicate that errors are serially correlated over two years and negatively correlated with true earnings (i.e., mean reverting). In a cross section, the ratio of the variance of the signal to the total variance is 0.82 for men and 0.92 for women. These ratios fall to 0.65 and 0.81 when the data are specified in first differences. Longitudinal earnings data may be more reliable than previously believed. Copyright 1991 by University of Chicago Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 9 (1991)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:9:y:1991:i:1:p:1-24

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  1. Lee Lillard & James P. Smith & Finis Welch, 2004. "What Do We Really Know About Wages: The Importance of Nonreporting and Census Imputation," Labor and Demography 0404005, EconWPA.
  2. Griliches, Zvi, 1974. "Errors in Variables and Other Unobservables," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(6), pages 971-98, November.
  3. Altonji, Joseph G, 1986. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S176-S215, June.
  4. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1987. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Long-term Employment Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 50-68, March.
  5. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1984. "Macroeconomic analyses and microeconomic analyses of labor supply," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 117-156, January.
  6. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
  7. Duncan, Greg J & Hill, Daniel H, 1985. "An Investigation of the Extent and Consequences of Measurement Error in Labor-Economic Survey Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 508-32, October.
  8. Mellow, Wesley & Sider, Hal, 1983. "Accuracy of Response in Labor Market Surveys: Evidence and Implications," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 331-44, October.
  9. repec:fth:prinin:155 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Orley Ashenfelter & Gary Solon, 1982. "Longitudinal Labor Market Data: Sources, Uses, and Limitations," Working Papers 535, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  1. Income Volatility: Jacob Hacker Responds to the CBO
    by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2008-01-19 23:33:00
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