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Using The Pareto Distribution To Improve Estimates Of Topcoded Earnings

  • Philip Armour
  • Richard V. Burkhauser
  • Jeff Larrimore

Inconsistent censoring in the public-use March Current Population Survey (CPS) limits its usefulness in measuring labor earnings trends. Using Pareto estimation methods with less-censored internal CPS data, we create an enhanced cell-mean series to capture top earnings in the public-use CPS. We find that previous approaches for imputing topcoded earnings systematically understate top earnings. Annual earnings inequality trends since 1963 using our series closely approximate those found by Kopczuk, Saez, & Song (2010) using Social Security Administration data for commerce and industry workers. However, when we consider all workers, earnings inequality levels are higher but earnings growth is more modest

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/2014/CES-WP-14-21.pdf
File Function: First version, 2014
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 14-21.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:14-21
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  1. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio & Violante, Giovanni L, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," CEPR Discussion Papers 7538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Stephen P. Jenkins & Richard V. Burkhauser & Shuaizhang Feng & Jeff Larrimore, 2011. "Measuring inequality using censored data: a multiple-imputation approach to estimation and inference," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 32013, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Saez, Emmanuel, 2001. "Using Elasticities to Derive Optimal Income Tax Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 205-29, January.
  5. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  6. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  7. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128, February.
  8. Jeff Larrimore & Richard V. Burkhauser & Shuaizhang Feng & Laura Zayatz, 2008. "Consistent Cell Means for Topcoded Incomes in the Public Use March CPS (1976-2007)," NBER Working Papers 13941, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bishop, John A & Chiou, Jong-Rong & Formby, John P, 1994. "Truncation Bias and the Ordinal Evaluation of Income Inequality," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(1), pages 123-27, January.
  10. Fichtenbaum, Rudy & Shahidi, Hushang, 1988. "Truncation Bias and the Measurement of Income Inequality," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 6(3), pages 335-37, July.
  11. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  12. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  14. R. Quandt, 1966. "Old and new methods of estimation and the pareto distribution," Metrika, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 55-82, December.
  15. 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.
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