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Earnings Volatility: Causes and Consequences

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This chapter presents, for the first time, comparable estimates of the extent to which individuals' earnings fluctuate from year to year in a large number of OECD countries. It looks at which individuals are most likely to be affected by earnings volatility and at what causes it, as well as the impact of taxes and benefits. It also examines how wages and earnings vary across the business cycle, and how policies and institutions influence such fluctuations and the relative importance of different adjustment margins. By breaking the latter down by level of education, the chapter also examines the effect of the business cycle on earnings inequality, a key issue for social cohesion that has to date been investigated for only a few countries.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011


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