Data Difficulties in Labor Economics
NBER Working Paper No. 2622
This essay sets out a framework for evaluating empirical work in terms of the ability of the data to provide adequate parameter estimates and hypothesis tests about the true underlying structure. Problems of aggregation, representativeness and structural change are discussed in detail. These criteria are applied to evaluate studies of labor supply, labor demand, local labor markets and union goals. Empirical work in labor supply has made the greatest strides because of the appropriateness of the data to answer questions of interest. Studies in the other areas have not made so much progress and will not until the same resources are devoted to collecting longitudinal microeconomic data on firms as have been spent on collecting longitudinal household data.