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Earnings Instability and Earnings Inequality in Urban China: 1989–2006

  • Zhao, Zhong


    (Renmin University of China)

This paper investigates the evolution of earnings inequality in urban China from 1989 to 2006. After decomposing the variance of log of earnings into transitory and permanent two parts, we find that both components are important contributors to the total variance of earnings. We also find that the share of the transitory part has been decreasing from early 1990 to 2004; however, this decreasing trend is reversed from 2004 to 2006. Compared female to male, though these two populations share similar trends in the changes of transitory and permanent components, changes are more pronounced for female than for male. Our results suggest that the time-invariant part and time related part in permanent earnings are negatively correlated. This implies converge of earnings profile in long run and also implies that there is more mobility within the distribution of long-term earnings.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3270.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3270
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  1. Cappellari, Lorenzo, 2000. "The dynamics and inequality of Italian male earnings: permanent changes or transitory fluctuations?," ISER Working Paper Series 2000-41, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  2. John Whalley & Ximing Yue, 2006. "Rural Income Volatility and Inequality in China," NBER Working Papers 12779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Altonji, Joseph G & Segal, Lewis M, 1996. "Small-Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 353-66, July.
  4. Thomas, D. & Frankenberg, E. & Smith, J.P., 2000. "Lost But Not Forgotten Attribution and Follow-up in the Indonesian Family Life Survey," Papers 00-03, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  5. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Niny Khor & John Pencavel, 2006. "Income Mobility of Individuals In China and the United States," Discussion Papers 05-009, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  7. Akee, Randall K. Q., 2007. "Errors in Self-Reported Earnings: The Role of Previous Earnings Volatility," IZA Discussion Papers 3263, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & Jia-Zhueng Fan, 2003. "Ceaseless Toil? Health and Labor Supply of the Elderly in Rural China," Working Papers benjamin-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  9. Benjamin, Dwayne & Brandt, Loren & Giles, John, 2005. "The Evolution of Income Inequality in Rural China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 769-824, July.
  10. Robert A. Moffitt & Peter Gottschalk, 2002. "Trends in the Transitory Variance of Earnings in the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C68-C73, March.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
  14. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  15. Duncan Thomas & Elizabeth Frankenberg & James P. Smith, 2001. "Lost but Not Forgotten: Attrition and Follow-up in the Indonesia Family Life Survey," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 556-592.
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