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Inequality Trends in Sweden 1978-2004

  • David Domeij

    (Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Martin Floden

    (Stockholm School of Economics)

We document a clear increase in Swedish earnings inequality in the early 1990s, and that much of this increase was generated by movements in and out of the labor market. Inequality in disposable income and earnings net of taxes and transfers also increased, but much less than the increased inequality in pre-government earnings. These different developments are most likely explained by the generous Swedish welfare system. Consistent with these observations, we see no clear trend in consumption inequality. We also estimate stochastic processes for household earnings. A simple random-walk process captures much of the life-cycle dynamics. But we find clear evidence that the true earnings process is not a random walk. We demonstrate that some estimation methods result in severe upward bias in the estimated volatility of permanent shocks if serial correlation in temporary shocks is ignored. Our estimation results show that the increase in earnings inequality is almost entirely driven by an increase in residual earnings inequality. Moreover, this increase was mostly generated by an increased volatility of persistent shocks. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.red.2009.10.005
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Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 13 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 179-208

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:09-203
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  1. Domeij, David, 2006. "Rising Earnings Inequality in Sweden: The Role of Composition and Prices," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 639, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Agell, J & Englund, P & Sodersten, J, 1996. "Tax reform of the Century - the Swedish Experiment," Papers 1996-13, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  3. Assar Lindbeck, 1997. "The Swedish Experiment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1273-1319, September.
  4. Nordström Skans, Oskar & Edin, Per-Anders & Holmlund, Bertil, 2006. "Wage dispersion between and within plants: Sweden 1985-2000," Working Paper Series 2006:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  5. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, 08.
  6. Fatih Guvenen, 2005. "An Empirical Investigation of Labor Income Processes," Macroeconomics 0508026, EconWPA.
  7. Per-Anders Edin & Bertl Holmlund, 1993. "The Swedish Wage Stucture: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity Wage Policy?," NBER Working Papers 4257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P., 2000. "LINDA - Longitudinal INdividual DAta for Sweden," Papers 2000-19, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  9. Anders Bohlmark & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Replication and Extension for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 879-900, October.
  10. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1.
  11. David Domeij & Paul Klein, 2002. "Private Pensions: To What Extent Do They Account for Swedish Wealth Inequality?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(3), pages 503-534, July.
  12. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Skedinger, Per, 2007. "The Design and Effects of Collectively Agreed Minimum Wages: Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 700, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
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