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Wage Mobility In The United States

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  • Moshe Buchinsky
  • Jennifer Hunt

Abstract

This paper examines the mobility of individuals through the wage and earnings distributions, using 1979-1991 data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Lifetime wages will be more equally distributed than wages from any single year if individuals change position in the wage distribution over time. The results suggest that mobility is predominantly within group mobility, reducing wage inequality by 12%-26% over a four-year horizon. A detailed examination of within-group mobility, using year-to-year estimates of transition probabilities among quintiles of the distribution, reveals similar general patterns across all skill groups: mobility declined significantly over the years, especially at the lower end of the wage and earnings distributions. © 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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  • Moshe Buchinsky & Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Wage Mobility In The United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 351-368, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:81:y:1999:i:3:p:351-368
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    1. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
    2. Maasoumi, Esfandiar & Zandvakili, Sourushe, 1990. "Generalized entropy measures of mobility for different sexes and income levels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1-2), pages 121-133.
    3. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    4. Jonathan Morduch & Terry Sicular, 2002. "Rethinking Inequality Decomposition, With Evidence from Rural China," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 93-106, January.
    5. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
    6. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-1385, November.
    7. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
    8. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-445, March.
    9. Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-368, July.
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