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Sources of lifetime inequality

Author: Mark Huggett; Gustavo Ventura; Amir Yaron; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2007.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 13224.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Is lifetime inequality mainly due to differences across people established early in life or to differences in luck experienced over the working lifetime? We answer this question within a model that features idiosyncratic shocks to human capital, estimated directly from data, as well as heterogeneity in ability to learn, initial human capital, and initial wealth -- features which are chosen to match observed  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Mark Huggett; Gustavo Ventura; Amir Yaron; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 153293647
Description: 1 online resource (1 volume).
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 13224.
Responsibility: Mark Huggett, Gustavo Ventura, Amir Yaron.

Abstract:

Is lifetime inequality mainly due to differences across people established early in life or to differences in luck experienced over the working lifetime? We answer this question within a model that features idiosyncratic shocks to human capital, estimated directly from data, as well as heterogeneity in ability to learn, initial human capital, and initial wealth -- features which are chosen to match observed properties of earnings dynamics by cohorts. We find that as of age 20, differences in initial conditions account for more of the variation in lifetime utility, lifetime earnings and lifetime wealth than do differences in shocks received over the lifetime. Among initial conditions, variation in initial human capital is substantially more important than variation in learning ability or initial wealth for determining how an agent fares in life. An increase in an agent's human capital affects expected lifetime utility by raising an agent's expected earnings profile, whereas an increase in learning ability affects expected utility by producing a steeper expected earnings profile.

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