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On the Evaluation of Economic Mobility

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  • Peter Gottschalk

    ()
    (Boston College)

  • Enrico Spolaore

    ()
    (Boston College)

Abstract

This paper provides an explicit welfare basis for evaluating economic mobility. Our social welfare function can be seen as a natural dynamic extension of the static social welfare function presented in Atkinson and Bourguignon (1982). Unlike Atkinson and Bourguignon, we use social preferences a la Kreps-Porteus, for which the timing of resolution of uncertainty may matter. Within this generalized framework, we show that welfare evaluation of mobility depends on the interplay between aversion to inequality, risk aversion, and aversion to intertemporal fluctuations. This framework allows us to provide a welfare analysis not only of "reversal" (which has been the focus of much of the literature) but also of "origin independence" (which has not received an explicit welfare foundation in the literature). We use our framework to develop welfare measures of mobility, and apply these measures to intergenerational mobility in the United States using PSID data. We show that the value of origin independence is quantitatively important. We also show that different subpopulations experience different mobility patterns: reversal is more important than origin independence for blacks but the opposite is true for non-blacks.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 407..

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 28 May 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:407

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Web page: http://fmwww.bc.edu/EC/
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Keywords: mobility;

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  3. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
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  9. Aaberge, Rolf & Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Palme, Mårten & Pedersen, Peder & Smith, Nina & Wennemo, Tom, 1996. "Income Inequality and Income Mobility in the Scandinavian Countries Compared to the United States," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 98, Stockholm School of Economics, revised Aug 2002.
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  13. 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..
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  17. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of Sample Attrition in Panel Data: The Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," NBER Technical Working Papers 0220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  24. Shorrocks, A F, 1978. "The Measurement of Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1013-24, September.
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  26. Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
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  28. 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.
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