In the Name of the Son (and the Daughter): Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930
AbstractThis paper provides a new perspective on intergenerational mobility in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We devise an empirical strategy that allows to calculate intergenerational elasticities between fathers and children of both sexes. The key insight of our approach is that the information about socioeconomic status conveyed by first names can be used to create a pseudo-link not only between fathers and sons, but also between fathers and daughters. The latter is typically not possible with historical data. We find that the father-son elasticity in economic status grows throughout the sample period. Intergenerational elasticities for daughters follow a broadly similar trend, but with some differences in timing. We argue that most of the increase in the intergenerational elasticity estimate in the early part of the 20th Century can be accounted for by the vast regional disparities in economic development, with increasing returns to human capital contributing to explain the residual. Other mechanisms such as changes in fertility, migration, and investment in public schooling, appear to have had only a minor role in explaining the trends.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9372.
Date of creation: Mar 2013
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Claudia Olivetti & M. Daniele Paserman, 2013. "In the Name of the Son (and the Daughter): Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930," NBER Working Papers 18822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
- N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-04-13 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEM-2013-04-13 (Demographic Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2013-04-13 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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