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Author:Ozkan, Serdar 

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Taxation of human capital and wage inequality: a cross-country analysis

Wage inequality has been significantly higher in the United States than in continental European countries (CEU) since the 1970s. Moreover, this inequality gap has further widened during this period as the US has experienced a large increase in wage inequality, whereas the CEU has seen only modest changes. This paper studies the role of labor income tax policies for understanding these facts. We begin by documenting two new empirical facts that link these inequality differences to tax policies. First, we show that countries with more progressive labor income tax schedules have significantly ...
Staff Report , Paper 438

Working Paper
What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Risk?

We study the evolution of individual labor earnings over the life cycle using a large panel data set of earnings histories drawn from U.S. administrative records. Using fully nonparametric methods, our analysis reaches two broad conclusions. First, earnings shocks display substantial deviations from lognormality?the standard assumption in the incomplete markets literature. In particular, earnings shocks display strong negative skewness and extremely high kurtosis?as high as 30 compared with 3 for a Gaussian distribution. The high kurtosis implies that in a given year, most individuals ...
Working Papers , Paper 719

Report
The nature of countercyclical income risk

This paper studies the nature of business cycle variation in individual earnings risk using a confidential dataset from the U.S. Social Security Administration, which contains (uncapped) earnings histories for millions of individuals. The base sample is a nationally representative panel containing 10 percent of all U.S. males from 1978 to 2010. We use these data to decompose individual earnings growth during recessions into ?between-group? and ?within-group? components. We begin with the behavior of within-group shocks. Contrary to past research, we do not find the variance of idiosyncratic ...
Staff Report , Paper 476

Working Paper
Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital

We study the determinants of lifetime earnings (LE) inequality in the U.S. by focusing on job ladder dynamics and on-the-job learning as sources of wage growth. Using administrative data, we document that i) lower LE workers change jobs more often, which is mainly driven by nonemployment; ii) average annual earnings growth for job stayers is similar, around 2% in the bottom two-thirds of the LE distribution, whereas for job switchers it rises with LE; iii) top LE workers enjoy around 10% average earnings growth regardless of job switching. We estimate a job ladder model with on-the-job ...
Working Papers , Paper 2022-002

Working Paper
The nature of countercyclical income risk

This paper studies the nature of business cycle variation in individual earnings risk using a dataset from the U.S. Social Security Administration, which contains (uncapped) earnings histories for millions of anonymous individuals. The base sample is a nationally representative panel containing 10 percent of all U.S. males from 1978 to 2010. We use these data to decompose individual earnings growth during recessions into "between-group" and "within-group" components. We begin with the behavior of within-group shocks. Contrary to past research, we do not find the variance of idiosyncratic ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2013-25

Report
Anatomy of Lifetime Earnings Inequality: Heterogeneity in Job Ladder Risk vs. Human Capital

We study the determinants of lifetime earnings (LE) inequality in the United States, for which differences in lifetime earnings growth are key. Using administrative data and focusing on the roles of job ladder dynamics and on-the-job learning, we document that 1) lower LE workers change jobs more often, mainly driven by higher nonemployment; 2) earnings growth for job stayers is similar at around 2 percent in the bottom two-thirds of the LE distribution, whereas for job switchers it rises with LE; and 3) top LE workers enjoy high earnings growth regardless of job switching. We estimate a job ...
Staff Reports , Paper 908

Discussion Paper
Job Ladders and Careers

Workers in the United States experience vast differences in lifetime earnings. Individuals in the 90th percentile earn around seven times more than those in the 10th percentile, and those in the top percentile earn almost twenty times more. A large share of these differences arise over the course of people’s careers. What accounts for these vastly different outcomes in the labor market? Why do some individuals experience much steeper earnings profiles than others? Previous research has shown that the “job ladder”—in which workers obtain large pay increases when they switch to better ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191008

Working Paper
Taxation of human capital and wage inequality: a cross-country analysis

Wage inequality has been significantly higher in the United States than in continental European countries (CEU) since the 1970s. Moreover, this inequality gap has further widened during this period as the US has experienced a large increase in wage inequality, whereas the CEU has seen only modest changes. This paper studies the role of labor income tax policies for understanding these facts, focusing on male workers. We construct a life cycle model in which individuals decide each period whether to go to school, work, or stay non-employed. Individuals can accumulate skills either in school or ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2013-20

Working Paper
Earnings Dynamics and Its Intergenerational Transmission: Evidence from Norway

Using administrative data from Norway, we first present stylized facts on labor earnings dynamics between 1993 and 2017 and its heterogeneity across narrow population groups. We then investigate the parents’ role in children’s income dynamics—the intergenerational transmission of income dynamics. We find that children of high-income, high-wealth fathers enjoy steeper income growth over the life cycle and face more volatile but more positively skewed income changes, suggesting that they are more likely to pursue high-return, high-risk careers. Children of poorer fathers also face more ...
Working Papers , Paper 2021-015

Discussion Paper
How Does Earnings Risk for Americans Change During Recessions?

Aggregate labor earnings fell more in the period from 2007 to 2009 than during any other post-war recession.
FEDS Notes , Paper 2014-01-31-2

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