IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Mis-Measurement of Permanent Earnings: New Evidence from Social Security Earnings Data

  • Bhashkar Mazumder

This study investigates the reliability of using short-term averages of earnings as a proxy for permanent earnings in empirical research. An earnings dynamics model is estimated on a large sample of men covering the period from 1983 to 1997 following the cohort-based methodology of Baker and Solon (1999). The analysis uses a unique dataset that matches men in the 1984, 1990 and 1996 Surveys of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to the Social Security Administration’s Summary Earnings Records (SER). The results confirm that using a short-term average of earnings can lead to spurious estimates of the effect of lifetime earnings on a particular outcome. In addition, the transitory variance appears to vary considerably over the lifecycle. The share of earnings variance due to transitory factors is higher among blacks and the persistence of transitory shocks appears to be greater for this group as well. Finally, the transitory variance appears to be a more important factor in explaining the overall earnings variance of college educated men than those without college.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 02-12.

in new window

Date of creation: May 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:02-12
Contact details of provider: Postal: 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233
Phone: (301) 763-6460
Fax: (301) 763-5935
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Grawe, Nathan D., 2003. "Life Cycle Bias in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Persistence," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2003207e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  2. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  3. Clark, Todd E, 1996. "Small-Sample Properties of Estimators of Nonlinear Models of Covariance Structure," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 367-73, July.
  4. David Card, 1991. "Intertemporal Labor Supply: An Assessment," NBER Working Papers 3602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-45, March.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Lewis M. Segal, 1994. "Small sample bias in GMM estimation of covariance structures," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2001. "Earnings mobility in the US: a new look at intergenerational inequality," Working Paper Series WP-01-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Heisz, Andrew & Corak, Miles, 1998. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian Men: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Data," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1998113e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  9. Jacob Mincer, 1991. "Human Capital, Technology, and the Wage Structure: What Do Time Series Show?," NBER Working Papers 3581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  11. 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.
  12. Grawe, Nathan D., 2006. "Lifecycle bias in estimates of intergenerational earnings persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 551-570, October.
  13. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:02-12. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Fariha Kamal)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.