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Are Earnings Inequality and Mobility Overstated? The Impact of Non-Classical Measurement Error

Author

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  • Gottschalk, Peter T.

    (Boston College)

  • Huynh, Minh

    (U.S. Social Security Administration)

Abstract

Measures of inequality and mobility based on self-reported earnings reflect attributes of both the joint distribution of earnings across time and the joint distribution of measurement error and earnings. While classical measurement error would increase measures of inequality and mobility there is substantial evidence that measurement error in earnings is not classical. In this paper we present the analytical links between non-classical measurement error and measures of inequality and mobility. The empirical importance of non-classical measurement error is explored using the Survey of Income and Program Participation matched to tax records. We find that the effects of non-classical measurement error are large. However, these non-classical effects are largely offsetting when estimating mobility. As a result SIPP estimates of mobility are similar to estimates based on tax records, though SIPP estimates of inequality are smaller than estimates based on tax records.

Suggested Citation

  • Gottschalk, Peter T. & Huynh, Minh, 2006. "Are Earnings Inequality and Mobility Overstated? The Impact of Non-Classical Measurement Error," IZA Discussion Papers 2327, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2327
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843, Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    earnings mobility and inequality; measurement error;

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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