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Sources of Lifetime Inequality

Listed author(s):
  • Mark Huggett
  • Gustavo Ventura
  • Amir Yaron

Is lifetime inequality mainly due to differences across people established early in life or to differences in luck experienced over the working lifetime? We answer this question within a model that features idiosyncratic shocks to human capital, estimated directly from data, as well as heterogeneity in ability to learn, initial human capital, and initial wealth. We find that, as of age 23, differences in initial conditions account for more of the variation in lifetime earnings, lifetime wealth, and lifetime utility than do differences in shocks received over the working lifetime. (JEL D31, D91, J24, J31)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.7.2923
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/dec2011/20070591_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7 (December)
Pages: 2923-2954

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:7:p:2923-54
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