Changes in the Distribution of Individual Earnings in the United States: 1967-1986

by Lynn A. Karoly

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Using micro-data from the Current Population Survey, the author examines the sensitivity of conclusions regarding time-series changes in inequality to the measure of inequality employed and to the population group analyzed. Although changes in inequality over time are sensitive to the measure of inequality, the author finds a general pattern of stable or decreasing inequality throughout the 1970s followed by a period of increasing inequality. Based upon a decomposition analysis, she concludes that these changes are not simply the result of the changing employment distribution among groups defined by sex, age, education or industry. Instead, the rise in inequality results from an increase in inequality within these groups.

Originally published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, v. 74, no. 1, February 1992, pp. 107-115.

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