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Trends in the Transitory Variance of Male Earnings: Methods and Evidence


  • Robert A. Moffitt
  • Peter Gottschalk


We estimate the trend in the transitory variance of male earnings in the United States using the Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1970 to 2004. Using an error components model and simpler but only approximate methods, we find that the transitory variance started to increase in the early 1970s, continued to increase through the mid-1980s, and then remained at this new higher level through the 1990s and beyond. Thus the increase mostly occurred about 30 years ago. Its increase accounts for between 31 and 49 percent of the total rise in cross-sectional variance, depending on the time period.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert A. Moffitt & Peter Gottschalk, 2012. "Trends in the Transitory Variance of Male Earnings: Methods and Evidence," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 204-236.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2012:i:1:p:204-236

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Lochner, Lance & Monge-Naranjo, Alexander, 2014. "Student Loans and Repayment: Theory, Evidence and Policy," Working Papers 2014-40, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 12 Nov 2014.
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    18. Jonathan A. Schwabish & Julie H. Topoleski, 2013. "Modeling Individual Earnings in CBO’s Long-Term Microsimulation Model: Working Paper 2013-04," Working Papers 44306, Congressional Budget Office.
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    22. Moira Daly & Dmytro Hryshko & Iourii Manovskii, 2016. "Improving the Measurement of Earnings Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 22938, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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