Discussion paper

DP18472 Trends and Inequality in Lifetime Earnings in France

This paper is the first to compute lifetime earnings (LTE) in France for a large number of cohorts, that entered the labour market between 1967 and 1987. We compare with evidence by Guvenen et al. (2022) for the US, documenting sharp differences between the two countries. Median LTE show similar flat trends in both countries, but in France this results from a moderate increase for both genders together with increased female participation, while in the US, LTE declines for men and sharply grows for women. There have been marked changes in age profiles, as for both genders younger cohorts have experienced a decrease in entry wages that has been more than offset by faster wage growth. Our analysis of inequality finds that it is lower when we focus on LTE than in the cross-section, and that it follows a U-shaped pattern, although the increase is much smaller in France than that observed in the US. Lastly, we also find that i) education (returns and changes in attainment) plays a key role in shaping LTE across cohorts, and ii) differences in working time explain an increasing part of the gender gap in LTE over time as both men and women have increased the number of years they work but women have done so largely through part-time employment.


Garbinti, B, C García-Peñalosa, V Pecheu and F Savignac (2023), ‘DP18472 Trends and Inequality in Lifetime Earnings in France‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18472. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18472