The evolution of the earnings distribution in a volatile economy: evidence from Argentina

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December 2021
Paper author(s): 
Andrés Blanco
Bernardo Diaz de Astarloa
Andrés Drenik
Christian Moser
Danilo Trupkin
Financial Economics

This paper studies earnings inequality and dynamics in Argentina between 1996 and 2015. Following the 2001–2002 crisis, the Argentine economy transitioned from a low- to a high-inflation regime. At the same time, the number of collective bargaining agreements increased, and minimum wage adjustments became more frequent. We document that this macroeconomic transition was associated with a persistent decrease in the dispersion of real earnings and cyclical movements in higher-order moments of the distribution of earnings changes. To understand this transition at the micro level, we estimate processes of regular wages within job spells. As the Argentine economy transitioned from low to high inflation, the monthly frequency of regular-wage adjustments almost doubled, while the distribution of regular-wage changes morphed from having a mode close to zero and being positively skewed to having a positive mode and being more symmetric.


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