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Technological Progress and the Earnings of Older Workers

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Listed:
  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko

    (University of California - Berkley)

  • John Laitner

    (University of Michigan)

  • Jae Song

    (Social Security Administration)

  • Dmitriy Stolyarov

    (Dmitriy Stolyarov)

Abstract

Economists’ standard model assumes that improvements in total factor productivity (TFP) raise the marginal product of labor for all workers evenly. This paper uses an earnings dynamics regression model to study whether, in practice, older workers benefit less from TFP growth than younger workers. We utilize panel earnings data from the Social Security Administration’s Continuous Work History Sample. The data include workers of all ages, and we use annual figures for 1950-2004. Our first specification relies on BLS measurements of TFP. Our second model develops a new TFP measure using a principal components analysis. We find that although the earnings of younger workers track TFP growth 1-for-1, the earnings of older workers do not: we find, for example, that a 60-year-old male’s earnings grow only 85-90% as fast as TFP. Nevertheless, our analysis implies that in an economy with an aging labor force, gains from experience tend to outweigh older workers’ inability to benefit fully from TFP improvements.

Suggested Citation

  • Yuriy Gorodnichenko & John Laitner & Jae Song & Dmitriy Stolyarov, 2013. "Technological Progress and the Earnings of Older Workers," Working Papers wp280, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp280
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    File URL: http://mrdrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp280.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Laitner, John & Silverman, Dan, 2012. "Consumption, retirement and social security: Evaluating the efficiency of reform that encourages longer careers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(7-8), pages 615-634.
    2. John C. Driscoll & Aart C. Kraay, 1998. "Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation With Spatially Dependent Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 549-560, November.
    3. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 1992. "The Effects of Labor Market Experience, Job Seniority, and Job Mobility on Wage Growth," NBER Working Papers 4133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-375, April.
    5. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
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