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Assessing the Equalizing Force of Mobility Using Short Panels: France, 1990-2000

  • Stéphane Bonhomme
  • Jean-Marc Robin

In this paper, we document whether and how much the equalizing force of earnings mobility has changed in France in the 1990's. For this purpose, we use a representative three-year panel, the French Labour Force Survey. We develop a model of earnings dynamics that combines a flexible specification of marginal earnings distributions (to fit the large cross-sectional dimension of the data) with a tight parametric representation of the dynamics (adapted to the short time-series dimension). Log earnings are modelled as the sum of a deterministic component, an individual fixed effect and a transitory component which is assumed first-order Markov. The transition probability of the transitory component is modelled as a one-parameter Plackett copula. We estimate this model using a sequential expectation-maximization algorithm.We exploit the estimated model to study employment/earnings inequality in France over the 1990-2002 period. We show that, in phase with business-cycle fluctuations (a recession in 1993 and two peaks in 1990 and 2000), earnings mobility decreases when cross-section inequality and unemployment risk increase. We simulate individual earnings trajectories and compute present values of lifetime earnings for various horizons. Inequality presents a hump-shaped evolution over the period, with a 9% increase between 1990 and 1995 and a decrease afterwards. Accounting for unemployment yields an increase of 11%. Moreover, this increase is persistent, as it translates into a 12% increase in the variance of log present values. The ratio of inequality in present values to inequality in one-year earnings, a natural measure of immobility or of the persistence of inequality, remains remarkably constant over the business cycle. Copyright , Wiley-Blackwell.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2008.00521.x
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 63-92

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:1:p:63-92
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