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Research Details

UM02-C2 - Representative versus Actual Lifetime Earnings Trajectories

Olivia S. Mitchell, John W. R. Phillips and Sylvester J. Schieber

This project explores the relationship between real-world lifetime earnings trajectories of actual workers, and several benchmark earnings paths used in Social Security policy analysis. We use the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to compare actual workers’ covered earnings profiles with so-called representative earnings streams typically used in a wide range of SSA policy simulations. We also explore the effect of using a national average of covered earnings to convert pay earned early in life into “real” earnings compatible with those received later in life. This research will help evaluate distributional impacts of current program rules and policy changes.

Publications (PDF)

Brief:
Modeling Lifetime Earnings Paths: Hypothetical versus Actual Workers
Working Paper(s):
Modeling Lifetime Earnings Paths: Hypothetical versus Actual Workers
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