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Occupation Inflation in the Current Population Survey


  • Jonathan Fisher
  • Christina Houseworth


A common caveat often accompanying results relying on household surveys regards respondent error. There is research using independent, presumably error-free administrative data, to estimate the extent of error in the data, the correlates of error, and potential corrections for the error. We investigate measurement error in occupation in the Current Population Survey (CPS) using the panel component of the CPS to identify those that incorrectly report changing occupation. We find evidence that individuals are inflating their occupation to higher skilled and higher paying occupations than the ones they actually perform. Occupation inflation biases the education and race coefficients in standard Mincer equation results within occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Fisher & Christina Houseworth, 2012. "Occupation Inflation in the Current Population Survey," Working Papers 12-26, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:12-26

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Fisher & Christina Houseworth, 2012. "The reverse wage gap among educated White and Black women," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 10(4), pages 449-470, December.
    2. Macpherson, David A & Hirsch, Barry T, 1995. "Wages and Gender Composition: Why Do Women's Jobs Pay Less?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(3), pages 426-471, July.
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    1. repec:nsr:escoed:escoe-dp-2017-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Leonard Nakamura & Jon Samuels & Rachel Soloveichik, 2017. "Measuring the Free Digital Economy within the GDP and Productivity Accounts," BEA Working Papers 0146, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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