Abstract

This article examines whether position in the demographic cycle is an important factor in determining earnings and earnings growth. Earnings equations for white males are estimated by using March Current Population Survey data. Position in the demographic cycle is captured by including both measures of own cohort size and the size of surrounding cohorts in the estimated earnings equations. Position in the demographic cycle matters. Increases in own cohort size lead to flatter earnings profiles, whereas increases in the size of surrounding cohorts are associated with steeper earnings profiles. The net effect is that those who enter the labor market before or after the peak of the demographic cycle start out with lower earnings but experience faster earnings growth. This pattern is uniform across all schooling groups: high school dropouts, high school graduates, those with some college, and college graduates.

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