The Importance of Wage Growth Assumptions in Calculating Economic Damages

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This study examines the importance of incorporating age-earnings profiles into the estimation of future earnings. Using data from the 2000 Census of the Population and the 2001-2015 American Community Surveys, we estimate age-earnings profiles for seven different education groups after controlling for period and cohort effects. We compare estimates of the loss in future earnings using the age-earnings profiles versus two popular alternatives: assuming a constant rate of earnings growth across the life-cycle or using cross-sectional data for age groups to estimate wage growth for various age ranges. Our results imply that a failure to incorporate the age-earnings profile into estimates of earnings losses can lead to significant over- or under-statement of losses depending on the age at which the damages begin and the educational attainment of the injured party.

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National Association of Forensic Economics

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Journal of Forensic Economics

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