Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Uncovering the American Dream: Inequality and Mobility in Social Security Earnings Data since 1937

Contents:

Author Info

  • Wojciech Kopczuk
  • Emmanuel Saez
  • Jae Song

Abstract

This paper uses Social Security Administration longitudinal earnings micro data since 1937 to analyze the evolution of inequality and mobility in the United States. Earnings inequality follows a U-shape pattern, decreasing sharply up to 1953 and increasing steadily afterwards. We find that short-term and long-term (rank based) mobility among all workers has been quite stable since 1950 (after a temporary surge during World War II). Therefore, the pattern of annual earnings inequality is very close to the pattern of inequality of longer term earnings. Mobility at the top has also been very stable and has not mitigated the dramatic increase in annual earnings concentration since the 1970s. However, the stability in long-term earnings mobility among all workers masks substantial heterogeneity across demographic groups. The decrease in the gender earnings gap and the substantial increase in upward mobility over a career for women is the driving force behind the relative stability of overall mobility measures which mask declines in mobility among men. In contrast, overall inequality and mobility patterns are not significantly influenced by the changing size and structure of immigration nor by changes in the black/white earnings gaps.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13345.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13345.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13345

Note: DAE LS PE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Frank Levy & Peter Temin, 2007. "Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America," NBER Working Papers 13106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1998. "Rank Regressions, Wage Distributions, and the Gender Gap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 610-643.
  4. Donggyun Shin & Gary Solon, 2008. "Trends in Men's Earnings Volatility: What Does the Panel Study of Income Dynamics Show?," NBER Working Papers 14075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Katz, L.F. & Krueger, A.B., 1991. "Chances In The Structure Of Wages In The Public And Private Sectors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1547, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 163-193.
  7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," NBER Working Papers 11627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Li, Hongzhe & Hong, Fangxin, 2006. "Discussion," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 101, pages 1332-1334, December.
  10. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
  11. Chinhui Juhn, 1999. "Wage inequality and demand for skill: Evidence from five decades," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 424-443, April.
  12. Guillermina Jasso & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 1998. "The Changing Skills of New Immigrants to the United States: Recent Trends and Their Determinants," NBER Working Papers 6764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  14. Lindert, Peter H., 2000. "Three centuries of inequality in Britain and America," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 167-216 Elsevier.
  15. Marianne Bertrand & Kevin F. Hallock, 2000. "The Gender Gap in Top Corporate Jobs," NBER Working Papers 7931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. John Abowd & Martha Stinson, 2011. "Estimating Measurement Error in SIPP Annual Job Earnings: A Comparison of Census Bureau Survey and SSA Administrative Data," Working Papers 11-20, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  17. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman, 1992. "Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj92-1, May.
  18. Simon Kuznets, 1950. "Shares of Upper Income Groups in Income and Savings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kuzn50-1, May.
  19. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  20. Robert Carroll & David Joulfaian & Mark Rider, 2006. "Income Mobility: The Recent American Experience," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0620, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  21. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Daniel E. Sichel, 2007. "The evolution of household income volatility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Martha Stinson, 2002. "Estimating Measurement Error in SIPP Annual Job Earnings: A Comparison of Census Survey and SSA Administrative Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-24, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  23. Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1995. "Measurement Error and Earnings Dynamics: Some Estimates from the PSID Validation Study," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(3), pages 305-14, July.
  24. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1992. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U. S. Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 67-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1993. "Trends in Relative Black-White Earnings Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 85-91, May.
  26. Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
  27. Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 869-924, December.
  28. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  29. John J. Donohue III & James Heckman, 1991. "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," NBER Working Papers 3894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Hungerford, Thomas L, 1993. "U.S. Income Mobility in the Seventies and Eighties," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(4), pages 403-17, December.
  31. repec:fth:prinin:282 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. repec:fth:prinin:310 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. Bollinger, Christopher R, 1998. "Measurement Error in the Current Population Survey: A Nonparametric Look," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 576-94, July.
  34. James Albrecht & Anders Bjorklund & Susan Vroman, 2003. "Is There a Glass Ceiling in Sweden?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 145-177, January.
  35. Lena Edlund & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Women, Wealth and Mobility," NBER Working Papers 13162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Moshe Buchinsky & Jennifer Hunt, 1996. "Wage Mobility in the United States," NBER Working Papers 5455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  37. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  38. David M. Cutler & Lawrence F. Katz, 1991. "Macroeconomic Performance and the Disadvantaged," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 1-74.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden – A combination of equal opportunity and capitalistic dynasties," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 705, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," NBER Working Papers 15483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert J. Gordon & Ian Dew-Becker, 2007. "Selected Issues in the Rise of Income Inequality," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(2), pages 169-192.
  4. Jonathan A. Schwabish, 2009. "Identifying Rates of Emigration in the United States Using Administrative Earnings Records: Working Paper 2009-01," Working Papers 20516, Congressional Budget Office.
  5. Dew-Becker, Ian & Gordon, Robert J, 2008. "Controversies about the Rise in American Inequality: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 6817, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Kevin A. Bryan & Leonardo Martinez, 2008. "On the evolution of income inequality in the United States," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 97-120.
  7. Claudia Sanhueza & Ricardo Mayer, 2011. "Top Incomes in Chile using 50 years of household surveys : 1957-2007," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 38(1 Year 20), pages 169-193, June.
  8. Alexander Gelber, 2008. "Taxation and Family Labor Supply," 2008 Meeting Papers 249, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Lawrence Mishel & Kar-Fai Gee, 2012. "Why Aren’t Workers Benefiting from Labour Productivity Growth in the United States?," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 23, pages 31-43, Spring.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13345. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.