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Releasing Earnings Distributions using Differential Privacy: Disclosure Avoidance System For Post Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO)


  • Andrew Foote
  • Ashwin Machanavajjhala
  • Kevin McKinney


The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data on earnings percentiles of graduates from post secondary institutions. This paper describes and evaluates the disclosure avoidance system developed for these statistics. We propose a differentially private algorithm for releasing these data based on standard differentially private building blocks, by constructing a histogram of earnings and the application of the Laplace mechanism to recover a differentially-private CDF of earnings. We demonstrate that our algorithm can release earnings distributions with low error, and our algorithm out-performs prior work based on the concept of smooth sensitivity from Nissim, Raskhodnikova and Smith (2007).

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  • Andrew Foote & Ashwin Machanavajjhala & Kevin McKinney, 2019. "Releasing Earnings Distributions using Differential Privacy: Disclosure Avoidance System For Post Secondary Employment Outcomes (PSEO)," Working Papers 19-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:19-13

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