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Long-Run Inequality and Annual Instability of Men's and Women's Earnings in Canada

  • Charles Beach

    ()

    (Queen's University)

  • Ross Finnie

    (Queen's University and Statisics Canada)

  • David Gray

    (University of Ottawa)

This paper examines the variability of workers' earnings in Canada over the 1982-to-2000 period by a graphical descriptive approach using the Longitudinal Administrative Data base file. Following Gottschalk and Moffitt (1994), we decompose the total variance of workers' earnings into a 'permanent' or long-run component between workers and a 'transitory' or year-to-year earnings instability component over time for given workers. The decomposition is applied to a five-year moving window. Several results are found. First, the general rise in total earnings variance over the period reflects quite different patterns of change for its separate components. Long-run earnings inequality has generally increased over the period, while year-to-year earnings instability has pretty steadily decreased. Changes in the total earnings variability have been driven primarily by changes in long-run earnings inequality. Second, the patterns of change in the two variance components showed substantial differences between men and women. Since the early 1990s, long-run earnings inequality continued to rise for men, but it markedly decreased for women. Since the late 1980s, earnings instability fell quite steadily for women, but it showed a more cyclical pattern for men. Third, the patterns across ages of the two variance components are almost opposite. Long-run earnings inequality generally rises with age, so it is markedly highest among older-age workers. Earnings instability, in contrast, generally declines with age, so it is markedly highest among entry-age workers.

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File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1116.pdf
File Function: First version 2006
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Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1116.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1116
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  1. David H. Richardson, 1997. "Changes in the Distribution of Wages in Canada, 1981-1992," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 622-43, August.
  2. Gray, David & Finnie, Ross & Beach, Charles M., 2006. "The Impact of Macroeconomic Conditions on the Instability and Long-Run Inequality of Workers' Earnings in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006268e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  3. 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.
  4. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  5. 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 338-75, April.
  6. Gottschald, Peter T, 1982. "Earnings Mobility: Permanent Change or Transitory Fluctuations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(3), pages 450-56, August.
  7. 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.
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