Inequality: Causes and Consequences: Volume 43

Cover of Inequality: Causes and Consequences
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Table of contents

(17 chapters)
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Preface

Pages ix-xiii
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Abstract

This paper studies the cross-country differences in conventional measures of inequality of opportunity in Europe in the space of individual disposable incomes. Exploiting two recent waves of the EUSILC database reporting information on family background (2005 and 2011), we provide estimates of inequality of opportunity in about 30 European countries for two sufficiently distant data points, allowing a check of consistency for country rankings. In addition, we exploit two observations available for most of the countries to explore the relationship between many institutional dimensions and inequality of opportunity, finding evidence of negative correlation with educational expenditure (especially at the pre-primary level) and passive labour market policies.

Abstract

This paper provides household lifetime inequality indexes derived from representative U.S. labor market data. We obtain this result by using estimates of the household search model proposed by Flabbi and Mabli (2012). Inequality indexes computed on the benchmark model shows that inequality in utility values is substantially different from inequality in earnings and wages and that inequality at the cross-sectional level is significantly different from inequality at the lifetime level. Both results deliver original policy implications that would have not been captured without using our approach. In particular, we find that a counterfactual policy experiment consisting in a mean-preserving spread of the wage offers distributions increases lifetime inequality in wages and earnings but not in utility. When comparing inequality at the individual level between men and women, we find inequality in wages and earnings to be higher for husbands than wives but inequality in utility to be higher for wives. A counterfactual decomposition shows that the job offers parameters are the main source of the gender differential.

Abstract

Ideal estimates of the intergenerational elasticity (IGE) in income require a large panel of income data covering the entire working lifetimes for two generations. Previous studies have demonstrated that using short panels and covering only certain portions of the life cycle can lead to considerable bias. I address these biases by using the PSID and constructing long time averages centered at age 40 in both generations. I find that the IGE in family income in the United States is likely greater than 0.6 suggesting a relatively low rate of intergenerational mobility in the United States. I find similar sized estimates for the IGE in labor income. These estimates support the prior findings of Mazumder (2005a, b) and are also similar to comparable estimates reported by Mitnik et al. (2015). In contrast, a recent influential study by Chetty, Hendren, Kline, Saez (2014) using tax data that begins in 1996 estimates the IGE in family income for the United States to be just 0.344 implying a much higher rate of intergenerational mobility. I demonstrate that despite the seeming advantages of extremely large samples of administrative tax data, the age structure, and limited panel dimension of the data used by Chetty et al. leads to considerable downward bias in estimating the IGE. I further demonstrate that the sensitivity checks in Chetty et al. regarding the age at which children’s income is measured, and the length of the time average of parent income used to estimate the IGE suffer from biases due to these data limitations. There are also concerns that tax data, unlike survey data, may not adequately reflect all sources of family income. Estimates of the rank–rank slope, Chetty et al.’s preferred estimator, are more robust to the limitations of the tax data but are also downward biased and modestly overstate mobility. However, Chetty et al.’s main findings of sizable geographic differences within the US in rank mobility are unlikely to be affected by these biases. I conclude that researchers should continue to use both the IGE and rank-based measures depending on their preferred concept of mobility. It is also important for researchers to have adequate coverage of key portions of the life cycle and to consider the possible drawbacks of using administrative data.

Abstract

Contrary to the implications of economic theory, consumption inequality in the United States did not react to the increases in income inequality during the last three decades. This paper investigates if a change in the type of income inequality – from permanent to transitory – or a change in the ability to insure income shocks is responsible for this. A measure of household consumption is imputed into the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to create panel data on income and consumption for the period 1980–2010. The minimum distance investigation of covariance relationships shows that both explanations work together: the share of transitory shocks increases over time, but the capability to insure against permanent and transitory income shocks also improves. Together, these phenomena can explain the lack of an increase in consumption inequality.

Abstract

This paper uses the microdata of the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey to assess the contribution of occupational concentration to wage inequality between establishments and its growth over time. We show that occupational concentration plays an important role in wage determination for workers, in a wide variety of occupations, and can explain some establishment-level wage variation. Occupational concentration is increasing during the 2000–2011 time period, although much of this change is explained by other observable establishment characteristics. Overall, occupational concentration can help explain a small amount of wage inequality growth between establishments during this time period.

Abstract

This paper seeks to connect changes in the structure of wages at the occupation level to measures of the task content of jobs. We first present a simple model where skills are used to produce tasks, and changes in task prices are the underlying source of change in occupational wages. Using Current Population Survey (CPS) wage data and task measures from the O*NET, we document large changes in both the within and between dimensions of occupational wages over time, and find that these changes are well explained by changes in task prices likely induced by technological change and offshoring.

Abstract

This paper investigates, theoretically and empirically, differences between blacks and whites in the United States concerning the intergenerational transmission of occupational skills and the effects on sons’ earnings. The father–son skill correlation is measured by the correlation coefficient (or cosine of the angle) between the father’s skill vector and the son’s skill vector. The skill vector comprises an individual’s occupational characteristics from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). According to data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), white sons earn higher wages in occupations that require skills similar to those of their fathers, whereas black sons in such circumstances incur a wage loss. A large portion of the racial wage gap is explained by the father–son skill correlation. However, a significant unexplained racial wage gap remains at the lower tail of the wage distribution.

Abstract

While there has been intense debate in the empirical literature over the evolution of the college wage premium in the United States, its evolution in Europe has received little attention. This paper investigates the causes of the evolution of the college wage premium in 12 European countries from 1994 to 2009, assessing the relevance of the supply factor as a determinant of the college wage premium. I use cross-country variation in relative supply, demand, and labour market institutions to examine their effects on the trend in wage inequality. I address possible concerns of endogeneity of the relative supply using an IV strategy exploiting the differential legislations of university autonomy and their variations over time. Results show that the strong increase in the relative supply that European countries have experienced has decreased the college wage premium. The most relevant institution is the minimun wage, which significantly decreases college wage premium.

Abstract

Labour markets across the globe have recently been characterized by rising wage inequality, real wage stagnation or both. Most academic work to date considers each in isolation, but the research in this paper attempts to pull them together, arguing that higher wage inequality takes on an added significance if real wages of the typical worker are not growing, and showing that inequality rises and real wage slowdowns have gone hand-in-hand with one another due to wages decoupling from productivity in the United States and United Kingdom. The lack of growth of real wages at the median in the United States is also shown to be linked to the declining influence of trade unions.

Abstract

We investigate the question of whether investing in a child’s development by having a parent stay at home when the child is young is correlated with the child’s adult outcomes. Specifically, do children with stay-at-home mothers have higher adult earnings than children raised in households with a working mother? The major contribution of our study is that, unlike previous studies, we have access to rich longitudinal data that allows us to measure both the parental earnings when the child is very young and the adult earnings of the child. Our findings are consistent with previous studies that show insignificant differences between children raised by stay-at-home mothers during their early years and children with mothers working in the market. We find no impact of maternal employment during the first five years of a child’s life on earnings, employment, or mobility measures of either sons or daughters. We do find, however, that maternal employment during children’s high school years is correlated with a higher probability of employment as adults for daughters and a higher correlation between parent and daughter earnings ranks.

Abstract

We use Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF) data from the United States and Great Britain to investigate the association between adults’ health and the income inequality they experienced as children up to 80 years earlier. Our inequality data track shares of national income held by top income percentiles from the early 20th century. We average those data over the same early-life years and merge them to CNEF data from both countries that measure self-reported health of individuals between 1991 and 2007. Observationally, adult men and women in the United States and Great Britain less often report being in better health if inequality was higher in their first five years of life. Although the trend in inequality is similar in both countries over the past century, the empirical association between health and inequality in the United States differs substantially from the estimated relationship in Great Britain. When we control for demographic characteristics, measures of permanent income, and early-life socio-economic status, the health–inequality association remains robust only in the U.S. sample. For the British sample, the added controls drive the coefficient on inequality toward zero and statistical insignificance.

Cover of Inequality: Causes and Consequences
DOI
10.1108/S0147-9121201643
Publication date
2016-02-25
Book series
Research in Labor Economics
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78560-811-7
eISBN
978-1-78560-810-0
Book series ISSN
0147-9121