IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v125y2010i1p91-128..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937

Author

Listed:
  • 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. Annual earnings inequality is U-shaped, decreasing sharply up to 1953 and increasing steadily afterward. Short-term earnings mobility measures are stable over the full period except for a temporary surge during World War II. Virtually all of the increase in the variance in annual (log) earnings since 1970 is due to increase in the variance of permanent earnings (as opposed to transitory earnings). Mobility at the top of the earnings distribution is stable and has not mitigated the dramatic increase in annual earnings concentration since the 1970s. Long-term mobility among all workers has increased since the 1950s but has slightly declined among men. The decrease in the gender earnings gap and the resulting substantial increase in upward mobility over a lifetime for women are the driving force behind the increase in long-term mobility among all workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:1:p:91-128.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.1.91
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:1:p:91-128.. 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: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.