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Jel Classification:J31 

Journal Article
Top Income Inequality in the 21st Century: Some Cautionary Notes

We revisit recent empirical evidence about the rise in top income inequality in the United States, drawing attention to key issues that we believe are critical for an informed discussion about changing inequality since 1980: the definition of income (labor versus total), the unit of analysis (individual versus tax unit), the importance of partnership and S-corporation income, income shifting between the corporate and personal sectors in response to tax incentives, the definition of the top of the distribution, and trends in the middle and bottom of the distribution. Our goal is to inform ...
Quarterly Review , Issue October , Pages 2-15

Journal Article
Why Are Life-Cycle Earnings Profiles Getting Flatter?

The authors present a simple, two-period model of human capital accumulation on the job and through college attainment. They use a calibrated version of the model to explain the observed flattening of the life-cycle earnings profiles of two cohorts of workers. The model accounts for more than 55 percent of the observed flattening for high school-educated and for college-educated workers. Two channels generate the flattening in the model: selection (or higher college attainment) and a higher skill price for the more recent cohort. Absent selection, the model would have accounted for no ...
Review , Volume 99 , Issue 3 , Pages 245-57

Working Paper
Dynamic Labor Reallocation with Heterogeneous Skills and Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk

Occupational specificity of human capital motivates an important role of occupationalreallocation for the economy’s response to shocks and for the dynamics of inequality.We introduce occupational mobility, through a random choice model with dynamicvalue function optimization, into a multi-sector/multi-occupation Bewley (1980)-Aiyagari (1994) model with heterogeneous income risk, liquid and illiquid assets, priceadjustment costs, and in which households differ by their occupation-specific skills.Labor income is a combination of endogenous occupational wages and idiosyncraticshock. ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2021-16

Working Paper
Are Manufacturing Jobs Still Good Jobs? An Exploration of the Manufacturing Wage Premium

This paper explores the factors behind differences in wages between manufacturing and other sectors. Using data from the Current Population Survey, we find that the manufacturing wage premium--the additional pay a manufacturing worker earns relative to a comparable nonmanufacturing worker--disappeared in recent years and that the erosion of the premium has primarily affected workers employed in production occupations, who experienced a wage decline of 2.5 percentage points since the 1990s relative to other workers in production occupations. While the demographic composition and other worker ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2022-011

Working Paper
The Allocation of Immigrant Talent: Macroeconomic Implications for the U.S. and Across Countries

We quantify the barriers to the economic integration of immigrants using an occupational choice model with natives and immigrants of multiple types subject to wedges that distort their allocations. We show that key parameters, including wedges, can be estimated to match the distribution of employment and earnings across individuals and occupations. We find sizable output gains from removing immigrant wedges in the U.S., accounting for 7 percent of immigrants’ overall economic contribution. These gains arise from increased labor force participation and from reallocation from manual toward ...
Working Papers , Paper 2021-004

Working Paper
Immigrant Misallocation

We quantify the barriers that impede the integration of immigrants into foreign labor markets and investigate their aggregate implications. We develop a model of occupational choice with natives and immigrants of multiple types whose decisions are subject to wedges which distort their allocation across occupations. We estimate the model to match salient features of U.S. and cross-country individual-level data. We find that there are sizable GDP gains from removing the wedges faced by immigrants in U.S. labor markets, accounting for approximately one-fifth of the overall economic contribution ...
Working Papers , Paper 2021-004

Working Paper
Explaining Cross-Cohort Differences in Life Cycle Earnings

College-educated workers entering the labor market in 1940 experienced a 4-fold increase in their labor earnings between the ages of 25 and 55; in contrast, the increase was 2.6-fold for those entering the market in 1980. For workers without a college education these figures are 3.6-fold and 1.5-fold, respectively. Why are earnings profiles flatter for recent cohorts? We build a parsimonious model of schooling and human capital accumulation on the job and calibrate it to earnings statistics of workers from the 1940 cohort. The model accounts for 99 percent of the flattening of earnings ...
Working Papers , Paper 2015-35

Working Paper
The Return to Big City Experience: Evidence from Danish Refugees

We offer causal evidence of higher returns to experience in big cities. Exploiting a natural experiment that settled political refugees across labor markets in Denmark between 1986 and 1998, we find that while refugees initially earn similar wages across locations, those placed in Copenhagen exhibit 35% faster wage growth with each additional year of experience. This gap is driven primarily by differential sorting towards high-wage establishments, occupations, and industries. An estimated spatial model of earnings dynamics attributes an important role to unobserved worker ability: more able ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 24

Working Paper
Family and Government Insurance: Wage, Earnings, and Income Risks in the Netherlands and the U.S.

We document new facts about risk in male wages and earnings, household earnings, and pre- and post-tax income in the Netherlands and the United States. We find that, in both countries, earnings display important deviations from the typical assumptions of linearity and normality. Individual-level male wage and earnings risk is relatively high at the beginning and end of the working life, and for those in the lower and upper parts of the income distribution. Hours are the main driver of the negative skewness and, to a lesser extent, the high kurtosis of earnings changes. Even though we find no ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 42

Discussion Paper
Wage Growth over Unemployment Spells

This article looks at the wage growth associated with a spell of unemployment during the past three recessions. Our main findings are threefold. First, half of all unemployed workers experience a lower hourly wage once they regain employment. Second, afteran unemployment spell, older workers and those without a college degree experience lower wage growth. Third, workers who regain employment in a different industry than they were in previously tend to experience a substantial wage decline. The analysis suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic not only led to unprecedented job losses, but it could ...
Policy Hub , Paper 2020-9

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