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Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts

  • Peter Gottschalk

This essay brings together the factual material on changes in the distribution of labor market income that any of the theories addressed in the other papers in this symposium must address. The broad stylized facts are that the rapid growth and stable level of inequality of both total family income and individual labor market that marked the postwar period came to an end during the 1970s. Real mean earnings grew very little but inequality of earnings rose substantially. This reflected increases both in inequality between education and experience groups and within groups. Mobility showed little change over this period.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.11.2.21
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 11 (1997)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 21-40

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:11:y:1997:i:2:p:21-40
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.11.2.21
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  1. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  2. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1991. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid- Century," NBER Working Papers 3817, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barry Bosworth & George L. Perry, 1994. "Productivity and Real Wages: Is There a Puzzle?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 317-343.
  4. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  5. Moshe Buchinsky & Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Wage Mobility In The United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 351-368, August.
  6. Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1996. "Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 93-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  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.
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