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Earnings mobility has been studied at both the macro level (the amount of mobility in an economy) and the micro level (the correlates of individuals’ income changes). While measurement error is recognized as potentially important at both these levels, very little is known about the degree to which earnings mobility estimates are affected by measurement error. We compare micro and macro earnings mobility estimates for the U.S. during the 1990s using both survey-based earnings and administrative-based earnings. We find that measurement error in survey-based earnings has little qualitative effect on mobility estimates, but often has a large quantitative effect.


Suggested Citation
Dragoset, L. M., & Fields, G. S. (2007). Validating U.S. earnings mobility measures[Electronic version]. Washington, DC: United States Census Bureau.

Required Publisher Statement
This document reports the results of research and analysis undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau staff. It has undergone a Census Bureau review more limited in scope than that given to official Census Bureau publications. The U.S. Census Bureau supports external researchers’ use of these data through the Research Data Centers (see