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Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings

  • Steven Haider
  • Gary Solon

Researchers in a variety of important economic literatures have assumed that current income variables as proxies for lifetime income variables follow the textbook errors-in-variables model. In our analysis of Social Security records containing nearly career-long earnings histories for the Health and Retirement Study sample, we find that the relationship between current and lifetime earnings departs substantially from the textbook model in ways that vary systematically over the life cycle. Our results can enable more appropriate analysis of, and correction for, errors-in-variables bias in any research that uses current earnings to proxy for lifetime earnings. (JEL D31, D91)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.96.4.1308
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/sept06/20040284_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1308-1320

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:4:p:1308-1320
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.4.1308
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  1. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-75, April.
  2. Lillard, Lee A, 1977. "Inequality: Earnings vs. Human Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 42-53, March.
  3. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," Working Papers 798, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. John Bound & Gary Solon, 1998. "Double Trouble: On the Value of Twins-Based Estimation of the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 6721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Haider, S. & Solon, G., 2000. "Nonrandom Selection in the HRS Social Security Earnings Sample," Papers 00-01, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2002. "The Mis-Measurement of Permanent Earnings: New Evidence from Social Security Earnings Data," Working Papers 02-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Bonggeun Kim & Gary Solon, 2005. "Implications of Mean-Reverting Measurement Error for Longitudinal Studies of Wages and Employment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 193-196, February.
  11. 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.
  12. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," NBER Working Papers 7235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
  14. John Bound & Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "The Extent of Measurement Error In Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make A Right?," NBER Working Papers 2885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
  16. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
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