IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fednsr/86684.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital

Author

Abstract

We study the determinants of lifetime earnings (LE) inequality in the United States, for which differences in lifetime earnings growth are key. Using administrative data and focusing on the roles of job ladder dynamics and on-the-job learning, we document that 1) lower LE workers change jobs more often, mainly driven by higher nonemployment; 2) earnings growth for job stayers is similar at around 2 percent in the bottom two-thirds of the LE distribution, whereas for job switchers it rises with LE; and 3) top LE workers enjoy high earnings growth regardless of job switching. We estimate a job ladder model with on-the-job learning featuring ex ante heterogeneity in learning ability and job ladder risk—job loss, job finding, and contact rates. We find that learning ability differences explain almost all earnings growth heterogeneity above the median, whereas ex ante heterogeneity in job ladder risk accounts for 80 percent of LE growth differences below the median.

Suggested Citation

  • Fatih Karahan & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2019. "Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital," Staff Reports 908, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:86684
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr908.pdf
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
    2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    3. Jeremy Lise & Costas Meghir & Jean-Marc Robin, 2016. "Matching, Sorting and Wages," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 19, pages 63-87, January.
    4. repec:hrv:faseco:34651703 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage Bargaining with On-the-Job Search: Theory and Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 323-364, March.
    6. Fatih Guvenen, 2009. "An Empirical Investigation of Labor Income Processes," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 58-79, January.
    7. van den Berg, Gerard J, 1990. "Search Behaviour, Transitions to Nonparticipation and the Duration of Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 842-865, September.
    8. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
    9. Philip Jung & Moritz Kuhn, 2019. "Earnings Losses and Labor Mobility Over the Life Cycle," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 678-724.
    10. Rasmus Lentz & Jesper Bagger, 2009. "An Empirical Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting," 2009 Meeting Papers 964, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Jeremy Lise, 2013. "On-the-Job Search and Precautionary Savings," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(3), pages 1086-1113.
    12. Jae Song & David J Price & Fatih Guvenen & Nicholas Bloom & Till von Wachter, 2019. "Firming Up Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(1), pages 1-50.
    13. Jesper Bagger & Fran?ois Fontaine & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2014. "Tenure, Experience, Human Capital, and Wages: A Tractable Equilibrium Search Model of Wage Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1551-1596, June.
    14. Fatih Guvenen & Greg Kaplan & Jae Song, 2014. "The Glass Ceiling and the Paper Floor: Gender Differences among Top Earners, 1981–2012," Working Papers 716, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    15. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2295-2350, November.
    16. Giorgio Topa & Aysegul Sahin & Andreas Mueller & Jason Faberman, 2014. "Job Search Behavior among the Employed and Unemployed," 2014 Meeting Papers 975, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality in the United States, 1913–1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-41.
    19. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2011. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2923-2954, December.
    20. Shigeru Fujita & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2017. "Recall and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(12), pages 3875-3916, December.
    21. Isaac Sorkin, 2018. "Ranking Firms Using Revealed Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(3), pages 1331-1393.
    22. Bontemps, Christian & Robin, Jean-Marc & Van den Berg, Gerard J, 1999. "An Empirical Equilibrium Job Search Model with Search on the Job and Heterogeneous Workers and Firms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1039-1074, November.
    23. repec:eee:labchp:v:3:y:1999:i:pb:p:2373-2437 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Xavier Gabaix & Jean‐Michel Lasry & Pierre‐Louis Lions & Benjamin Moll, 2016. "The Dynamics of Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 2071-2111, November.
    25. Satoshi Tanaka & Lawrence Warren & David Wiczer, 2020. "Earnings Growth, Job Flows and Churn," Working Papers 20-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    26. Menahem E. Yaari, 1965. "Uncertain Lifetime, Life Insurance, and the Theory of the Consumer," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 137-150.
    27. Charles I. Jones & Jihee Kim, 2018. "A Schumpeterian Model of Top Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(5), pages 1785-1826.
    28. Solomon W. Polachek & Tirthatanmoy Das & Rewat Thamma-Apiroam, 2015. "Micro- and Macroeconomic Implications of Heterogeneity in the Production of Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(6), pages 1410-1455.
    29. Haider, Steven J, 2001. "Earnings Instability and Earnings Inequality of Males in the United States: 1967-1991," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(4), pages 799-836, October.
    30. Fatih Guvenen & Greg Kaplan & Jae Song & Justin Weidner, 2017. "Lifetime Incomes in the United States over Six Decades," NBER Working Papers 23371, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    31. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-479.
    32. Victoria Gregory, 2020. "Firms as Learning Environments: Implications for Earnings Dynamics and Job Search," Working Papers 2020-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 28 Jan 2021.
    33. Xavier Gabaix, 2009. "Power Laws in Economics and Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 255-294, May.
    34. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, May.
    35. Joachim Hubmer, 2018. "The Job Ladder and its Implications for Earnings Risk," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 29, pages 172-194, July.
    36. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    37. Fatih Guvenen & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2014. "The Nature of Countercyclical Income Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(3), pages 621-660.
    38. Neal, Derek & Rosen, Sherwin, 2000. "Theories of the distribution of earnings," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 379-427, Elsevier.
    39. Greg Kaplan, 2012. "Inequality and the life cycle," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), pages 471-525, November.
    40. Jesper Bagger & Rasmus Lentz, 2014. "An Empirical Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting," Economics Working Papers 2014-11, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    41. Pawel Krolikowski, 2017. "Job Ladders and Earnings of Displaced Workers," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 1-31, April.
    42. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-273, May.
    43. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "Two Views of Inequality Over the Life Cycle," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 765-775, 04/05.
    44. Gregor Jarosch & Laura Pilossoph, 2019. "Statistical Discrimination and Duration Dependence in the Job Finding Rate," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(4), pages 1631-1665.
    45. Stéphane Bonhomme & Thibaut Lamadon & Elena Manresa, 2019. "A Distributional Framework for Matched Employer Employee Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 87(3), pages 699-739, May.
    46. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    47. Rasmus Lentz & Suphanit Piyapromdee & Jean-Marc Robin, 2018. "On Worker and Firm Heterogeneity in Wages and Employment Mobility: Evidence from Danish Register Data," PIER Discussion Papers 91, Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research, revised Aug 2018.
    48. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-247, April.
    49. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 11-44, August.
    50. Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 1999. "Careers in organizations: Theory and evidence," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2373-2437, Elsevier.
    51. John Haltiwanger & Henry Hyatt & Erika McEntarfer & Liliana Sousa & Stephen Tibbets, 2014. "Firm Age And Size In The Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Data," Working Papers 14-16, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    52. Gadi Barlevy, 2008. "Identification of Search Models using Record Statistics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 29-64.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Victoria Gregory, 2020. "Firms as Learning Environments: Implications for Earnings Dynamics and Job Search," Working Papers 2020-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 28 Jan 2021.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Christopher Taber & Rune Vejlin, 2020. "Estimation of a Roy/Search/Compensating Differential Model of the Labor Market," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(3), pages 1031-1069, May.
    2. Christian Bayer & Moritz Kuhn, 2018. "Which Ladder to Climb? Decomposing Life Cycle Wage Dynamics," CESifo Working Paper Series 7236, CESifo.
    3. Marotzke, Petra, 2013. "Job Search and the Age-Inequality Profile," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80007, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Arellano-Bover, Jaime, 2020. "Career Consequences of Firm Heterogeneity for Young Workers: First Job and Firm Size," IZA Discussion Papers 12969, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Jeremy Lise & Costas Meghir & Jean-Marc Robin, 2016. "Matching, Sorting and Wages," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 19, pages 63-87, January.
    6. Jesper Bagger & Fran?ois Fontaine & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2014. "Tenure, Experience, Human Capital, and Wages: A Tractable Equilibrium Search Model of Wage Dynamics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1551-1596, June.
    7. Bayer, Christian & Kuhn, Moritz, 2018. "Which Ladder to Climb? Wages of Workers by Job, Plant, and Education," IZA Discussion Papers 11827, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. David Card & Ana Rute Cardoso & Joerg Heining & Patrick Kline, 2018. "Firms and Labor Market Inequality: Evidence and Some Theory," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S1), pages 13-70.
    9. Magnac, Thierry & Roux, Sébastien, 2021. "Heterogeneity and wage inequalities over the life cycle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    10. Bowlus, Audra J. & Liu, Huju, 2013. "The contributions of search and human capital to earnings growth over the life cycle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 305-331.
    11. Torben Sørensen & Rune Vejlin, 2013. "The importance of worker, firm and match effects in the formation of wages," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 435-464, August.
    12. Blundell, Richard & Graber, Michael & Mogstad, Magne, 2015. "Labor income dynamics and the insurance from taxes, transfers, and the family," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 58-73.
    13. Yang, Guanyi, 2018. "Endogenous Skills and Labor Income Inequality," MPRA Paper 89638, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Muendler, Marc-Andreas, 2017. "Trade, technology, and prosperity: An account of evidence from a labor-market perspective," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2017-15, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    15. Lochner, Benjamin & Schulz, Bastian, 2020. "Firm productivity, wages, and sorting," IAB Discussion Paper 202004, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    16. Carl Sanders & Christopher Taber, 2012. "Life-Cycle Wage Growth and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 399-425, July.
    17. Kenneth Burdett & Carlos Carrillo‐Tudela & Melvyn G. Coles, 2011. "Human Capital Accumulation And Labor Market Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(3), pages 657-677, August.
    18. Christian Moser & Niklas Engbom, 2016. "Earnings Inequality and the Minimum Wage: Evidence from Brazil," 2016 Meeting Papers 72, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Rasmus Lentz & Jesper Bagger, 2009. "An Empirical Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting," 2009 Meeting Papers 964, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    20. Victoria Gregory, 2020. "Firms as Learning Environments: Implications for Earnings Dynamics and Job Search," Working Papers 2020-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 28 Jan 2021.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; job ladder; Pareto tails;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:86684. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/frbnyus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/frbnyus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.