Using the Pareto Distribution to Improve Estimates of Topcoded Earnings
Inconsistent censoring in the public-use March CPS limits its usefulness in measuring labor earnings trends, as previous approaches for imputing topcoded earnings systematically understate top earnings. Using Pareto estimation methods with less-censored internal data, we create an enhanced cell-mean series to capture top earnings in the public-use data. Annual earnings inequality trends since 1963 using our series largely mirror those found by Kopczuk, Saez, and Song (2010) using Social Security Administration data for Commerce and Industry workers. When we extend our analysis to 2013 and consider all workers, earnings inequality levels are higher but its growth is more modest.
This paper was revised on July 7, 2015
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19846
Published: Armour, Philip, Richard V. Burkhauser, and Jeff Larrimore. 2016. “Using the Pareto Distribution to Improve Estimates of Topcoded Earnings.” Economic Inquiry, 54(2) (April): 1263-1273. citation courtesy of
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