Oivier Bargain , Paul Carrillo-Maldonado , and H. Xavier Jara (2023) – Top earners and earnings inequality during the COVIDl-19 pandemic: evidence from Ecuadorian administrative data

This paper aims to assess the extent to which top earners in Ecuador were affected by
the COVID-19 crisis compared to other segments of the population. Our analysis makes use of
administrative data covering the universe of individuals affiliated to social security between January
2019 and December 2021. Our approach consists of identifying the top 10%, 1% and 0.1% of
earners in 2019 and analysing changes in their monthly earnings during the pandemic compared
to the rest of the registered workforce. Our analysis shows that employment and earnings of
registered workers fell during the second quarter of 2020. Interestingly, the only group
experiencing a recovery in employment is that of workers who were not at the top of the prepandemic earnings distribution. Conditional on being in registered employment, mean earnings
also dropped in the second quarter of 2020 across all earning groups (top and non-top). By the
end of 2021, earnings recovered for non-top earners and in the top 10% group. However, earnings
have remained below the pre-pandemic levels in the top 1% and top 0.1% groups. Finally, earning
disparities across population subgroups - e.g., by gender, educational level and sector of work -
have substantially increased among individuals who are not at the top of the earnings distribution