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Consumption Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Two Panel Data Sets

Jonathan Fisher and Johnson David S ()
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Johnson David S: U.S. Census Bureau

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 2006, vol. 6, issue 1, 1-38

Abstract: This paper examines inequality and mobility using measures of income and consumption. Consumption is claimed to be a better measure of permanent income and thus well-being, but most studies of inequality and mobility using U.S. data use income.This paper uses cohort data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys on total consumption to impute consumption in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Then, we use this imputed consumption and actual income from the PSID to examine changes in inequality and mobility. Similar to earlier findings, we show that there has been a large increase in income inequality but no concurrent increase in consumption inequality in the 1990s. Conversely, income mobility and consumption mobility are similar during this time period.Finally, we link the concepts of inequality and mobility using a social welfare function. The results suggest that income mobility and consumption mobility more than offset the increases in inequality.

Date: 2006
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DOI: 10.2202/1538-0653.1474

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