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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

Burkhauser, R and Feng, S and Jenkins, SP (2009) 'Using the P90/P10 Index to Measure US Inequality Trends with Current Population Survey Data: A View from Inside the Census Bureau Vaults.' Review of Income and Wealth, 55 (1). pp. 166-185. ISSN 0034-6586

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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.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Institute for Social and Economic Research
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2013 11:32
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 01:06
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/8006

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