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Black-white differences in intergenerational economic mobility in the US

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  • Bhash Mazumder

Abstract

Traditional measures of intergenerational mobility such as the intergenerational elasticity are not useful for inferences concerning group differences in mobility with respect to the pooled income distribution. This paper uses transition probabilities and measures of “directional rank mobility” that can identify interracial differences in intergenerational mobility. The study uses two data sources, including one that contains social security earnings for a large intergenerational sample. I find that recent cohorts of blacks are not only significantly less upwardly mobile but also significantly more downwardly mobile than whites. This implies a steady-state distribution in which there is no racial convergence in income. A descriptive analysis using covariates reveals that test scores in adolescence can explain much of the racial difference in both upward and downward mobility. Family structure can account for some of the racial gap in upward mobility but not downward mobility. Completed schooling and parental wealth also appear to account for some of the racial gaps in intergenerational mobility.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-2011-10.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2011-10

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Keywords: Intergenerational relations ; African Americans - Economic conditions;

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  1. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Tom Hertz, 2007. "A Group-Specific Measure of Intergenerational Persistence," Working Papers 2007-16, American University, Department of Economics.
  3. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Patrick Kline & Emmanuel Saez & Nicholas Turner, 2014. "Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity? Recent Trends in Intergenerational Mobility," NBER Working Papers 19844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2009. "The impact of Rosenwald Schools on Black achievement," Working Paper Series WP-09-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Bratsberg,Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Jäntti, Markus & Eriksson, Tor & Österbacka, Eva, 2007. "Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility : Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 782, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Chul-In Lee & Gary Solon, 2006. "Trends in Intergenerational Income Mobility," NBER Working Papers 12007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Intergenerational economic mobility in the U.S., 1940 to 2000," Working Paper Series WP-05-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Kevin Lang & Michael Manove, 2011. "Education and Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1467-96, June.
  9. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  10. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, K.J.Kathleen J., 2004. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 39-98.
  11. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  12. Kenneth Y. Chay & Jonathan Guryan & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2009. "Birth Cohort and the Black-White Achievement Gap: The Roles of Access and Health Soon After Birth," NBER Working Papers 15078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  14. Formby, John P. & Smith, W. James & Zheng, Buhong, 2004. "Mobility measurement, transition matrices and statistical inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 120(1), pages 181-205, May.
  15. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
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