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Assessing The Effects Of Wives' Earnings On Family Income Inequality


  • Maria Cancian
  • Deborah Reed


We argue that the effect of wives' earnings can be assessed meaningfully only by comparing the observed distribution of income with a reference distribution. The components of the standard decomposition of the Gini coefficient have no implicit reference distribution and therefore should not be interpreted as a measure of the effect of an income source on inequality. We suggest several intuitive counterfactual reference distributions and illustrate their use with 1979 and 1989 U.S. data. We conclude that wives' earnings reduced inequality in that the income distribution would have been less equal in their absence. Alternative measures of the impact have mixed results. © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Cancian & Deborah Reed, 1998. "Assessing The Effects Of Wives' Earnings On Family Income Inequality," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 73-79, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:80:y:1998:i:1:p:73-79

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Cox & Jonathan E. Ingersoll Jr. & Stephen A. Ross, 2005. "A Theory Of The Term Structure Of Interest Rates," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Theory Of Valuation, chapter 5, pages 129-164 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    5. Pearson, Neil D & Sun, Tong-Sheng, 1994. " Exploiting the Conditional Density in Estimating the Term Structure: An Application to the Cox, Ingersoll, and Ross Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1279-1304, September.
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    8. Fama, Eugene F & Bliss, Robert R, 1987. "The Information in Long-Maturity Forward Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 680-692, September.
    9. Longstaff, Francis A & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1992. " Interest Rate Volatility and the Term Structure: A Two-Factor General Equilibrium Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1259-1282, September.
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