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Author:Ozkan, Serdar 

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

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
Preventive vs. Curative Medicine: A Macroeconomic Analysis of Health Care over the Life Cycle

This paper studies differences in health care usage and health outcomes between low- and high-income individuals. Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) I find that early in life the rich spend significantly more on health care, whereas from middle to very old age medical spending of the poor surpasses that of the rich by 25%. In addition, low-income individuals are less likely to incur any medical expenditures in a given year, yet, when they do, their expenses are more likely to be extreme. To account for these facts, I develop and estimate a life-cycle model of two ...
Working Papers , Paper 2023-025

Unlike Others, the Top Earners See Strong Pay Growth Beyond Age 35

An analysis shows that the top 2% of male earners saw strong pay growth after 35. For the bottom 2% and the median worker, the pace declined or plateaued.
On the Economy

Report
What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Reveal about Life-Cycle Earnings Dynamics?

We study individual earnings dynamics over the life cycle using panel data on millions of U.S. workers. Using nonparametric methods, we first show that the distribution of earnings changes exhibits substantial deviations from lognormality, such as negative skewness and very high kurtosis. Further, the extent of these nonnormalities varies significantly with age and earnings level, peaking around age 50 and between the 70th and 90th percentiles of the earnings distribution. Second, we estimate nonparametric impulse response functions and find important asymmetries: positive changes for ...
Staff Reports , Paper 710

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
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
Dissecting Idiosyncratic Earnings Risk

This paper examines whether nonlinear and non-Gaussian features of earnings dynamics are caused by hours or hourly wages. Our findings from the Norwegian administrative and survey data are as follows: (i) Nonlinear mean reversion in earnings is driven by the dynamics of hours worked rather than wages since wage dynamics are close to linear, while hours dynamics are nonlinear—negative changes to hours are transitory, while positive changes are persistent. (ii) Large earnings changes are driven equally by hours and wages, whereas small changes are associated mainly with wage shocks. (iii) ...
Working Papers , Paper 2022-024

Working Paper
Preventive vs. Curative Medicine: A Macroeconomic Analysis of Health Care over the Life Cycle

This paper studies differences in health care usage and health outcomes between low- and high-income individuals. Using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) I find that early in life the rich spend significantly more on health care, whereas from midway through life until very old age the medical spending of the poor dramatically exceeds that of the rich. In addition, low-income individuals are less likely to incur any medical expenditures in a given year, yet, when they do incur medical expenditures, the amounts are more likely to be extreme. To account for these facts, I ...
Working Papers , Paper 2023-025

How Job Risk and Human Capital Shape Male Lifetime Earnings Disparities

Higher unemployment risk and fewer outside job offers appear to be key reasons why some men end up at the bottom of the lifetime earnings distribution for male workers.
On the Economy

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