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The mis-measurement of permanent earnings: new evidence from Social Security earnings data

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  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

This study investigates the reliability of using short-term averages of earnings as a proxy for permanent earnings in empirical research. An earnings dynamics model is estimated on a large sample of men covering the period from 1983 to 1997 following the cohort-based methodology of Baker and Solon (1999). The analysis uses a unique dataset that matches men in the 1984, 1990 and 1996 Surveys of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to the Social Security Administration's Summary Earnings Records (SER). The results confirm that using a short-term average of earnings can lead to spurious estimates of the effect of lifetime earnings on a particular outcome. In addition, the transitory variance appears to vary considerably over the lifecycle. The share of earnings variance due to transitory factors is higher among blacks and the persistence of transitory shocks appears to be greater for this group as well. Finally, the transitory variance appears to be a more important factor in explaining the overall earnings variance of college educated men than those without college.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-01-24.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-01-24

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Keywords: Income ; Social security ; Wages;

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References

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  1. Joseph G. Altonji & Lewis M. Segal, 1994. "Small Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," NBER Technical Working Papers 0156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Clark, Todd E, 1996. "Small-Sample Properties of Estimators of Nonlinear Models of Covariance Structure," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 367-73, July.
  3. Miles Corak & Andrew Heisz, 1999. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian Men: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 504-533.
  4. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-45, March.
  5. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2001. "Earnings mobility in the US: a new look at intergenerational inequality," Working Paper Series WP-01-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. David Card, 1991. "Intertemporal Labor Supply: An Assessment," NBER Working Papers 3602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
  8. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  9. Grawe, Nathan D., 2006. "Lifecycle bias in estimates of intergenerational earnings persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 551-570, October.
  10. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  11. Jacob Mincer, 1991. "Human Capital, Technology, and the Wage Structure: What Do Time Series Show?," NBER Working Papers 3581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  13. Grawe, Nathan D., 2003. "Life Cycle Bias in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Persistence," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2003207e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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Cited by:
  1. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
  2. Lindquist, Matthew J. & Böhlmark, Anders, 2005. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Country, Cohort and Gender Comparisons," Working Paper Series 4/2005, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  3. Brenner, Jan, 2010. "Life-cycle variations in the association between current and lifetime earnings: Evidence for German natives and guest workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 392-406, April.
  4. Nilsen, Øivind Anti & Vaage, Kjell & Aakvik, Arild & Jacobsen, Karl, 2008. "Estimates of Intergenerational Elasticities Based on Lifetime Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 3709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Bhashkar Mazumder & Jonathan Davis, 2011. "Parental Earnings and Children's Well-Being and Future Success: An Analysis of the SIPP Matched to SSA Earnings Data," Working Papers 11-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. Jesse Rothstein & Nathan Wozny, 2011. "Permanent Income and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 17610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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