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Using the P90/P10 Index to Measure US Inequality Trends with Current Population Survey Data: A View from Inside the Census Bureau Vaults*

Stephen Jenkins (), Shuaizhang Feng () and Richard Burkhauser ()

No 72, Working Papers from ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality

Abstract: The March Current Population Survey (CPS) is the primary data source for estimation of levels and trends in labor earnings and income inequality in the USA. Time-inconsistency problems related to top coding in theses data have led many researchers to use the ratio of the 90th and 10th percentiles of these distributions (P90/P10) rather than a more traditional summary measure of inequality. With access to public use and restricted-access internal CPS data, and bounding methods, we show that using P90/P10 does not completely obviate time-inconsistency problems, especially for household income inequality trends. Using internal data, we create consistent cell mean values for all top-coded public use values that, when used with public use data, closely track inequality trends in labor earnings and household income using internal data. But estimates of longer-term inequality trends with these corrected data based on P90/P10 differ from those based on the Gini coefficient. The choice of inequality measure matters.

Keywords: inequality; income; earnings; Current Population Survey; decile ratio; Gini coefficient (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D3 J3 C8 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 49 pages
Date: 2007
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ltv
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Downloads: (external link)
http://www.ecineq.org/milano/WP/ECINEQ2007-72.pdf (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: USING THE P90/P10 INDEX TO MEASURE U.S. INEQUALITY TRENDS WITH CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY DATA: A VIEW FROM INSIDE THE CENSUS BUREAU VAULTS (2009) Downloads
Working Paper: Using the P90/P10 Index to Measure U.S. Inequality Trends with Current Population Survey Data: A View From Inside the Census Bureau Vaults (2007) Downloads
Working Paper: Using the P90/P10 Index to Measure US Inequality Trends with Current Population Survey Data: A View from Inside the Census Bureau Vaults (2007) Downloads
Working Paper: Using the P90/P10 index to measure US inquality trends with current population survey data: a view from inside the Census Bureau vaults (2007) Downloads
Working Paper: Using the P90/P10 Index to Measure US Inequality Trends with Current Population Survey Data: A View from Inside the Census Bureau Vaults (2007) Downloads
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