The Evolution of Inequality, Heterogeneity and Uncertainty in Labor Earnings in the U.S. Economy
A large empirical literature documents a rise in wage inequality in the American economy. It is silent on whether the increase in inequality is due to greater heterogeneity in the components of earnings that are predictable by agents or whether it is due to greater uncertainty faced by agents. Applying the methodology of Cunha, Heckman, and Navarro (2005) to data on agents making schooling decisions in different economic environments, we join choice data with earnings data to estimate the fraction of future earnings that is forecastable and how this fraction has changed over time. We find that both predictable and unpredictable components of earnings have increased in recent years. The increase in uncertainty is substantially greater for unskilled workers. For less skilled workers, roughly 60% of the increase in wage variability is due to uncertainty. For more skilled workers, only 8% of the increase in wage variability is due to uncertainty. Roughly 26% of the increase in the variance of returns to schooling is due to increased uncertainty. Using conventional measures of income inequality masks the contribution of rising uncertainty to the rise in the inequality of earnings for less educated groups.
|Date of creation:||01 Oct 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104|
Web page: http://economics.sas.upenn.edu/pier
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2007.
"The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels,"
NBER Working Papers
13670, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2010. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 244-262, May.
- James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2008. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends And Levels," Working Papers 200828, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
- Heckman, James J. & LaFontaine, Paul A., 2007. "The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels," IZA Discussion Papers 3216, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Susanne M. Schennach, 2004. "Estimation of Nonlinear Models with Measurement Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 33-75, 01.
- Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J, 2004.
"European Unemployment and Turbulence Revisited in a Matching Model,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
4183, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2004. "European Unemployment and Turbulence Revisited in a Matching Model," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 456-468, 04/05.
- repec:nbr:nberbk:frie54-1 is not listed on IDEAS
- 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.
- Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
- Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2002.
"Partial insurance, information and consumption dynamics,"
IFS Working Papers
W02/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Blundell, Richard William & Pistaferri, Luigi & Preston, Ian, 2002. "Partial Insurance, Information, and Consumption Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 3666, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
- Matzkin, Rosa L, 1992. "Nonparametric and Distribution-Free Estimation of the Binary Threshold Crossing and the Binary Choice Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 239-70, March.
- Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten & Heckman, James, 2003.
"Estimating distributions of treatment effects with an application to the returns to schooling and measurement of the effects of uncertainty on college choice,"
Working Paper Series
2003:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
- Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 767, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998.
"Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
- 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.
- MaCurdy, Thomas, 2007. "A Practitioner's Approach to Estimating Intertemporal Relationships Using Longitudinal Data: Lessons from Applications in Wage Dynamics," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 62 Elsevier.
- Sen, Amartya, 2000. "Social justice and the distribution of income," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 59-85 Elsevier.
- Abbring, Jaap H. & Heckman, James J., 2007. "Econometric Evaluation of Social Programs, Part III: Distributional Treatment Effects, Dynamic Treatment Effects, Dynamic Discrete Choice, and General Equilibrium Policy Evaluation," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 6, chapter 72 Elsevier.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pen:papers:07-032. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dolly Guarini)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.