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Income Inequality and Income Mobility in the Scandinavian Countries Compared to the United States

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Abstract

This paper compares income inequality and income mobility in the Scandinavian countries and the United States during 1980-90. The results suggest that inequality is greater in the United States than in the Scandinavian countries and that this inequality ranking of countries remains unchanged when the accounting period of income is extended from one to eleven years. The pattern of mobility turns out to be remarkably similar, in the sense that the proportionate reduction in inequality from extending the accounting period of income is much the same. But we do find evidence of greater dispersion of first differences of relative earnings and income in the United States. Relative income changes are associated with changes in labor market and marital status in all four countries, but the magnitude of such changes are largest in the United States. Copyright 2002 by The International Association for Research in Income and Wealth.

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  • Aaberge, Rolf, et al, 2002. "Income Inequality and Income Mobility in the Scandinavian Countries Compared to the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(4), pages 443-469, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:48:y:2002:i:4:p:443-69
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    1. Gustafsson, Bjorn, 1994. "The Degree and Pattern of Income Immobility in Sweden," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 67-86.
    2. Richard V. Burkhauser & John G. Poupore, 1997. "A Cross-National Comparison Of Permanent Inequality In The United States And Germany," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 10-17.
    3. Jenkins, Stephen P & Lambert, Peter J, 1993. "Ranking Income Distributions When Needs Differ," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 337-356.
    4. Sen, Amartya, 1973. "On Economic Inequality," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198281931.
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    6. Anders Bjorklund & Richard B. Freeman, 1997. "Generating Equality and Eliminating Poverty, the Swedish Way," NBER Chapters,in: The Welfare State in Transition: Reforming the Swedish Model, pages 33-78 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-176, February.
    8. Pederson, P. J. & Schmidt-Sorensen, J. B. & Smith, N. & Westergard-Nielsen, N., 1990. "Wage differentials between the public and private sectors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 125-145.
    9. 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, pages 217-272.
    10. Shorrocks, Anthony, 1978. "Income inequality and income mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 376-393, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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