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Social class, family background, and intergenerational mobility

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  • McIntosh, James
  • Munk, Martin D.

Abstract

This research examines the various approaches taken by economists and sociologists for analyzing intergenerational mobility. Social mobility models based on social classes arising from an occupational classification scheme are analysed. A test for the statistical validity of classification schemes is proposed and tested using Danish sample survey data that was first collected in 1976 and augmented in 2000. This is referred to as a homogeneity test and is a likelihood ratio test of a set of linear restrictions which define social classes. For Denmark it is shown that this test fails for an Erikson-Goldthorpe classification system, raising doubts about the statistical validity of occupational classification systems in general. We also estimate regression models of occupational earnings, household earnings, and educational attainment using family background variables as covariates controlling for unobservables, measurement error, and simultaneous equation bias. In these models homogeneity tests are also rejected. We conclude from these results that the individual's family background has a small but significant impact on lifetime chances which is not captured by the Erikson-Goldthorpe classification scheme.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 107-117

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:53:y:2009:i:1:p:107-117

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

Related research

Keywords: Social class Family background Intergenerational mobility;

References

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  1. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  2. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
  3. Markus Jäntti & Eva Österbacka & Oddbjörn Raaum & Tor Eriksson & Anders Björklund, 2002. "Brother correlations in earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden compared to the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 757-772.
  4. Feinstein, Leon & Symons, James, 1999. "Attainment in Secondary School," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 300-321, April.
  5. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
  6. Raaum Oddbjørn & Bratsberg Bernt & Røed Knut & Österbacka Eva & Eriksson Tor & Jäntti Markus & Naylor Robin A, 2008. "Marital Sorting, Household Labor Supply, and Intergenerational Earnings Mobility across Countries," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-49, January.
  7. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  8. Piketty, Thomas, 2000. "Theories of persistent inequality and intergenerational mobility," Handbook of Income Distribution, in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 429-476 Elsevier.
  9. Robert Erikson & John H. Goldthorpe, 2002. "Intergenerational Inequality: A Sociological Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 31-44, Summer.
  10. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
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  12. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  13. James McIntosh & Martin Munk, 2007. "Scholastic ability vs family background in educational success: evidence from Danish sample survey data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 101-120, February.
  14. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  15. Grawe, Nathan D., 2006. "Lifecycle bias in estimates of intergenerational earnings persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 551-570, October.
  16. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  17. Anders Björklund & Markus Jäntti, 2000. "Intergenerational mobility of socio-economic status in comparative perspective," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 3-32.
  18. Miles Corak & Andrew Heisz, 1998. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian," Labor and Demography 9808001, EconWPA.
  19. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Wen-Chun Chang, 2013. "Climbing up the Social Ladders: Identity, Relative Income, and Subjective Well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 513-535, August.
  2. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2013. "Intergenerational Persistence in Income and Social Class: The Impact of Within-Group Inequality," CEP Discussion Papers dp1242, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Brown, Sarah & Ortiz-Nuñez, Aurora & Taylor, Karl, 2011. "What will I be when I grow up? An analysis of childhood expectations and career outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 493-506, June.

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