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Earnings Inequality and the Business Cycle

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  • Barlevy, Gadi
  • Tsiddon, Daniel

Abstract

Economists have long viewed recessions as contributing to increasing inequality. This conclusion is largely based on data from a period in which inequality was increasing over time, however. This Paper examines the connection between long-run trends and cyclical variation in earnings inequality. We develop a model in which cyclical and trend inequality are related, and find that in our model, recessions tend to amplify long-run trends, i.e. they involve more rapidly increasing inequality when long-run inequality is increasing, and more rapidly decreasing inequality when long-run inequality is decreasing. In support of this prediction, we present evidence that during the first half of the 20th century when earnings inequality was generally declining, earnings disparities indeed appeared to fall more rapidly in downturns, at least among workers at the top of the earnings distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4451.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4451

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Keywords: business cycles; great depression; human capital; income inequality; stochastic Ben Porath model; wage inequality;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Delis, Manthos D. & Hasan, Iftekhar & Kazakis , Pantelis, 2012. "Bank regulations and income inequality: Empirical evidence," Research Discussion Papers 18/2012, Bank of Finland.
  2. Peng, Fei & Kang, Lili, 2013. "Cyclical changes in the wage structure of the United Kingdom: a historical review of the GHS 1972-2002," MPRA Paper 47210, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Gadi Barlevy, 2004. "On the Timing of Innovation in Stochastic Schumpeterian Growth Models," NBER Working Papers 10741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio & Violante, Giovanni L, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," CEPR Discussion Papers 7538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Stéphane Bonhomme & Laura Hospido, 2012. "The cycle of earnings inequality: evidence from Spanish social security data," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1225, Banco de Espa�a.
  6. Tom Krebs, 2006. "Multi-Dimensional Risk and the Cost of Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 640-658, October.
  7. SAITO Yukiko & KOUNO Toshiaki, 2012. "Rising Wage Inequality Within Firms: Evidence from Japanese health insurance society data," Discussion papers 12039, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
  8. Edmond, Chris & Veldkamp, Laura, 2009. "Income dispersion and counter-cyclical markups," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 791-804, September.
  9. Bordo, Michael D. & Meissner, Christopher M., 2012. "Does inequality lead to a financial crisis?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 2147-2161.

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