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Interpreting Life-Cycle Inequality Patterns asan Efficient Allocation: Mission Impossible?

Data on consumption, earnings, wages and hours dispersion over the life cycle has been viewed as being at odds with an efficient allocation. We challenge this view. We show that a model with preference and wage shocks and full insurance produces the type of inequality patterns across age groups found in U.S. data. The efficient allocation model requires an increasing preference shifter dispersion profile to account for an increasing consumption dispersion profile. We examine U.S. data and find support for the view that the dispersion in preference shifters increases with age.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~07-07-03.

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Date of creation: 03 Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~07-07-03
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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  1. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Papers 168, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2010. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," Working Papers 2011-020, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  3. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris Telmer & Amir Yaron, 1997. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," GSIA Working Papers 228, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  4. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  5. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L., 2008. "Insurance and opportunities: A welfare analysis of labor market risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 501-525, April.
  6. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "An empirical investigation of labor income processes," IFS Working Papers W07/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Greg Kaplan, 2012. "Inequality and the life cycle," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), pages 471-525, November.
  8. Pricila Maziero & Laurence Ales, 2008. "Accounting for private information," Working Papers 663, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  10. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
  11. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Unequal we stand: an empirical analysis of economic inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," Staff Report 436, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  14. Mark Huggett, 2003. "Human Capital and Earnings Distribution Dynamics," Working Papers gueconwpa~03-03-10, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  15. Bound, John, et al, 1994. "Evidence on the Validity of Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Labor Market Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 345-68, July.
  16. Mark Huggett & Juan Carlos Parra, 2010. "How Well Does the U.S. Social Insurance System Provide Social Insurance?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(1), pages 76-112, 02.
  17. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-76, October.
  18. Fatih Guvenen & Anthony A. Smith, 2014. "Inferring Labor Income Risk and Partial Insurance From Economic Choices," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2085-2129, November.
  19. repec:oup:restud:v:73:y:2006:i:1:p:163-193 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
  21. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2001. "How Important Are Idiosyncratic Shocks? Evidence from Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 413-417, May.
  22. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-62, December.
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