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Social Mobility: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

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  • Sebastián Galiani

    (Maryland University)

Abstract

The definition of social mobility is a matter of debate. In the following discussion, conceptual issues in the literature on mobility are commented. This paper defines social mobility as a situation in which the relative economic status of an agent is not dependent on starting conditions such as parental income or family background. Analyzing the determinants of mobility involves exploring the channels through which offspring’s income is correlated to its parents’, such as inherited bequest, education, skills, among many others. This survey explores, in an analytical framework, the relation between social mobility and inequality, among other important dimensions of income distribution that are jointly determined. The focus is on the relevance of social mobility as it affects variables determining welfare and economic efficiency, and therefore on policies to promote it.

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File URL: http://economica.econo.unlp.edu.ar/documentos/20131216094446AM_Economica_588.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata in its journal Económica.

Volume (Year): 59 (2013)
Issue (Month): (January-December)
Pages: 167-229

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Handle: RePEc:lap:journl:588

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Keywords: Social mobility; Inequality; Efficiency;

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  1. Roland Bénabou & Efe A. Ok, 2000. "Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity," Working Papers 150, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
  2. C. Graham & S. Pettinato, 2002. "Frustrated Achievers: Winners, Losers and Subjective Well-Being in New Market Economies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 100-140.
  3. Ann L. Owen & David N. Weil, 1997. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility, Inequality, and Growth," NBER Working Papers 6070, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Harms, Philipp & Zink, Stefan, 2003. " Eating the Rich vs. Feeding the Poor: Borrowing Constraints and the Reluctance to Redistribute," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 116(3-4), pages 351-66, September.
  5. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 1675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. John Hassler & José Vicente Rodríguez Mora & Joseph Zeira, 2003. "Inequality and Mobility," Working Papers 23, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  7. Jean Tirole & Roland Benabou, 2004. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," 2004 Meeting Papers 15, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Jose V. Rodriguez Mora & John Hassler, 2000. "Intelligence, Social Mobility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 888-908, September.
  9. Piketty, Thomas, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
  10. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Who wants to redistribute?: The tunnel effect in 1990s Russia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 87-104, April.
  11. Lakshmi K. Raut, 1996. "Signalling equilibrium, Intergenerational mobility and long-run growth," GE, Growth, Math methods 9603002, EconWPA.
  12. Robert Sugden, 2004. "Living with unfairness: The limits of equal opportunity in a market economy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 211-236, 02.
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