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Choosing the right parents: changes in the intergenerational transmission of inequality between 1980 and the early 1990s

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  • David I. Levine
  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

This paper uses the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS), the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), and the General Social Survey (GSS) to measure the elasticity of family income on men’s adult earnings in 1980 and the early 1990s. The study finds a large and statistically significant increase in the importance of family income over time when comparing cohorts in the NLS, a dataset that has not been previously used for this purpose. We also find a large but statistically insignificant increase when using the GSS. The PSID, however, shows a large but statistically insignificant decline in this parameter. The results imply that changes in the effect of family income did not operate through the channel of human capital. Results suggest that the rate of inheritability of income may have increased in recent decades, but this evidence is not yet definitive. Researchers, therefore, should exercise caution when generalizing about trends over time when using small samples from just one dataset such as the PSID.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-02-08.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-02-08

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Keywords: Income;

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References

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  1. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-13, June.
  2. Mary Corcoran & Roger Gordon & Deborah Laren & Gary Solon, 1992. "The Association between Men's Economic Status and Their Family and Community Origins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(4), pages 575-601.
  3. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  4. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  5. Solon, Gary, 1989. "Biases in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Correlations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 172-74, February.
  6. Behrman, Jere & Tarbman, Paul, 1985. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the United States: Some Estimates and a Test of Becker's Intergenerational Endowments Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 144-51, February.
  7. Joseph G. Altonji & Thomas A. Dunn, 1991. "Relationships Among the Family Incomes and Labor Market Outcomes of Relatives," NBER Working Papers 3724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  9. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2001. "Earnings mobility in the US: a new look at intergenerational inequality," Working Paper Series WP-01-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. A. B. Atkinson, 1981. "On Intergenerational Income Mobility in Britain," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 3(2), pages 194-218, January.
  11. Menchik, Paul L, 1979. "Inter-generational Transmission of Inequality: An Empirical Study of Wealth Mobility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(184), pages 349-62, November.
  12. Bowles, Samuel, 1972. "Schooling and Inequality from Generation to Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S219-S51, Part II, .
  13. Heisz, Andrew & Corak, Miles, 1998. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian Men: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Data," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1998113e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  14. Shea, John, 2000. "Does parents' money matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 155-184, August.
  15. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Patterns of Intergenerational Mobility in Income and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 456-66, August.
  16. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jäntti, Markus & Bratsberg,Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Österbacka, Eva & Björklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor, 2007. "American exceptionalism in a new light : a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 781, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Sari Pekkala & Robert E. B. Lucas, 2004. "On the Importance of Finnishing School: Half a Century of Inter-Generational Economic Mobility in Finland," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-141, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  3. Barrett, Christopher B., 2003. "The Economics Of Poverty And The Poverty Of Economics: A Christian Perspective," Working Papers 14747, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  4. Nguyen, Anh & Getinet, Haile, 2003. "Intergenerational mobility in educational and occupational status: evidence from the U.S," MPRA Paper 1383, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Levine, David I. & Jellema, Jon R., 2005. "Growth, Industrialization, and the Intergenerational Correlation of Advantage," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt2q74s1tg, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  6. Grawe, Nathan D., 2006. "Lifecycle bias in estimates of intergenerational earnings persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 551-570, October.
  7. Harding, David J. & Jencks, Christopher & Lopoo, Leonard M. & Mayer, Susan E., 2003. "The Changing Effect of Family Background on the Incomes of American Adults," Working Paper Series rwp03-045, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  8. Phillip O’Hara, 2004. "A new family-community social structure," Forum for Social Economics, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 51-80, March.
  9. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2004. "Sibling similarities, differences and economic inequality," Working Paper Series WP-04-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Robert Lucas & Sari Kerr, 2013. "Intergenerational income immobility in Finland: contrasting roles for parental earnings and family income," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 1057-1094, July.
  11. Corak, Miles, 2006. "Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults? Lessons from a Cross Country Comparison of Generational Earnings Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 1993, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. David I. Levine & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2003. "The growing importance of family and community: an analysis of changes in the sibling correlation in earnings," Working Paper Series WP-03-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

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