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Empirical Strategies to Eliminate Life-Cycle Bias in the Intergenerational Elasticity of Earnings Literature


  • Jan Leonard Stuhler


I argue that the empirical strategies for estimation of the intergenerational elasticity of lifetime earnings that are currently employed in the literature might not eliminate bias arising from life-cycle effects. Specifically, I demonstrate that procedures based on the generalized errors-in-variables model suggested by Haider and Solon (2006) or the consideration of differential earnings growth rates across subpopulations may not yield unbiased or consistent estimates. I further argue that instrumental variable estimators will not identify an upper bound for the true population parameter.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan Leonard Stuhler, 2010. "Empirical Strategies to Eliminate Life-Cycle Bias in the Intergenerational Elasticity of Earnings Literature," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 346, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp346

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028.
    2. María Cervini Plá, 2009. "Measuring intergenerational earnings mobility in Spain: A selection-bias-free," Working Papers wpdea0904, Department of Applied Economics at Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona.
    3. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2009. "Family background and income during the rise of the welfare state: Brother correlations in income for Swedish men born 1932-1968," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 671-680, June.
    4. Nilsen, Øivind Anti & Vaage, Kjell & Aakvik, Arild & Jacobsen, Karl, 2008. "Estimates of Intergenerational Elasticities Based on Lifetime Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 3709, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhuller, Manudeep & Mogstad, Magne & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2011. "Life-Cycle Bias and the Returns to Schooling in Current and Lifetime Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 5788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Martin Nybom & Jan Stuhler, 2016. "Heterogeneous Income Profiles and Lifecycle Bias in Intergenerational Mobility Estimation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(1), pages 239-268.

    More about this item


    intergenerational mobility; intergenerational elasticity of earnings; life-cycle bias; generalized errors-in-variables model;

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models


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