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The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?

Author

Listed:
  • John Bound

    (University of Michigan and NBER)

  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University and NBER)

Abstract

This paper examines the properties and prevalence of measurement error in longitudinal earnings data. The analysis compares Current Population Survey data to administrative Social Security payroll tax records for a sample of heads of households over two years. In contrast to the typically assumed properties of measurement error, the results indicate that errors are serially correlated over two years and negatively correlated with true earnings (i.e., mean reverting). Moreover, reported earnings are more reliable for females than males. Overall, the ratio of the variance of the signal to the total variance is .82 for men and .92 for women. These ratios fall to .65 and .81 when the data are specified in first-differences. The estimates suggest that longitudinal earnings data may be more reliable than previously believed.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bound & Alan B. Krueger, 1988. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Working Papers 620, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:240
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Altonji, Joseph G, 1986. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 176-215, June.
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    3. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1984. "Macroeconomic analyses and microeconomic analyses of labor supply," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 117-156, January.
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    6. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
    7. Orley Ashenfelter, 1984. "Macroeconomic Analyses and Microeconomic Analyses of Labor Supply," Working Papers 553, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    8. Orley Ashenfelter & Gary Solon, 1982. "Longitudinal Labor Market Data: Sources, Uses, and Limitations," Working Papers 535, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    measurement error; longitudinal data; earnings;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General

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