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Decomposing the Sources of Earnings Inequality: Assessing the Role of Reallocation

  • Fredrik Andersson
  • Elizabeth E. Davis
  • Matthew L. Freedman
  • Julia I. Lane
  • Brian P. McCall
  • L. Kristin Sandusky

This paper uses matched employer-employee data from the U.S. Census Bureau to investigate the contribution of worker and firm reallocation to changes in wage inequality within and across industries between 1992 and 2003. We find that the entry and exit of firms and the sorting of workers and firms based on underlying worker skills are important sources of changes in earnings distributions over time. Our results suggest that the underlying dynamics driving changes in earnings inequality are complex and are due to factors that cannot be measured in standard cross-sectional data.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2010/CES-WP-10-32.pdf
File Function: First version, 2010
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 10-32.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:10-32
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  1. Fortin, Nicole & Lemieux, Thomas & Firpo, Sergio, 2011. "Decomposition Methods in Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
  2. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 251-334, March.
  3. Marco Manacorda, 2004. "Can the Scala Mobile Explain the Fall and Rise of Earnings Inequality in Italy? A Semiparametric Analysis, 19771993," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 585-614, July.
  4. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1993. "Small Business and Job Creation: Dissecting the Myth and Reassessing theFacts," NBER Working Papers 4492, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John Abowd & John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane, 2009. "Wage Structure and Labor Mobility in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: The Structure of Wages: An International Comparison, pages 81-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Reallocation, Firm Turnover, and Efficiency: Selection on Productivity or Profitability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 394-425, March.
  7. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & Sébastien Pérez-Duarte & Ian Schmutte, 2009. "A Formal Test of Assortative Matching in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 15546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hirsch, Barry & Schumacher, Edward J., 2003. "Match Bias in Wage Gap Estimates Due to Earnings Imputation," IZA Discussion Papers 783, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Katharine G. Abraham & James R. Spletzer & Michael Harper, 2010. "Labor in the New Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abra08-1.
  10. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane & James Spletzer, 2000. "Wages, Productivity, and the Dynamic Interaction of Businesses and Workers," NBER Working Papers 7994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Spletzer, James R, 2000. "The Contribution of Establishment Births and Deaths to Employment Growth," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 18(1), pages 113-26, January.
  13. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  14. Ericson, Richard & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
  15. Griliches, Zvi & Regev, Haim, 1995. "Firm productivity in Israeli industry 1979-1988," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 175-203, January.
  16. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  17. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2000. "Understanding Increasing and Decreasing Wage Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: The Impact of International Trade on Wages, pages 227-268 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  19. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  20. John M. Abowd & Paul A. Lengermann & Kevin L. McKinney, 2002. "The Measurement of Human Capital in the U.S. Economy," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Mar 2003.
  21. Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 1997. "Institutional Changes and Rising Wage Inequality: Is There a Linkage?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 75-96, Spring.
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