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Biases of the Ordinary Least Squares and Instrumental Variables Estimators of the Intergenerational Earnings Correlation : Revisited in the Light of Panel Data

  • Ramses H. ABUL NAGA

The OLS estimator of the intergenerational earnings correlation is biased towards zero, while the instrumental variables estimator is biased upwards. The first of these results arises because of measurement error, while the latter rests on the presumption that the education of the parent family is an invalid instrument. We propose a panel data framework for quantifying the asymptotic biases of these estimators as well as a mis-specification test for the IV estimator. Using US data we estimate the bias of the OLS estimator to be in the order of 10% to 20%, and that of IV to vary between 40% and 60%. Supporting evidence that the IV estimator is inconsistent, in face of the specification test, is however limited, and results are shown to be sensitive to the assumptions underlying the serial correlation in transitory incomes.

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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 01.05.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:01.05
Contact details of provider: Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.64
Fax: ++41 21 692.33.05
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/seriesEmail:


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  1. Meijer, E. & Wansbeek, T., 2000. "Measurement error in a single regressor," Research Report 00F14, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  2. 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.
  3. Ramses H. Abul Naga, 2001. "Galtonian regression of intergenerational income linkages: biased procedures, a new estimator and mean-square error comparisons," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6564, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  5. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  6. Ramses H. Abul Naga, 1999. "Estimating the intergenerational correlation of incomes: an errors in variables framework," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6579, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1990. "The Intergenerational Correlation between Children's Adult Earnings and Their Parents' Income: Result from the Michigan Panel Survey of Income Dynamics," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 36(2), pages 115-27, June.
  8. Lorraine Dearden & Steve Machin & Howard Reed, 1995. "Intergenerational mobility in Britain," IFS Working Papers W95/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
  10. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  11. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  12. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  13. Bowles, Samuel, 1972. "Schooling and Inequality from Generation to Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S219-S51, Part II, .
  14. Ramses ABUL NAGA & Jaya KRISHNAKUMAR, 1999. "Panel Data Estimation of the Intergenerational Correlation of Incomes," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 9910, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
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