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Reassessing Intergenerational Mobility in Germany and the United States: The Impact of Differences in Lifecycle Earnings Patterns

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  • Thorsten Vogel

Abstract

Using longitudinal data on fathers and their children, this study compares the extent of intergenerational mobility in Germany and the United States and introduces an estimation strategy that corrects estimates of intergenerational earnings elasticities for a possible lifecycle bias. In contrast to previous studies, we find that the extent of intergenerational mobility is more limited in the US than in Germany. Furthermore, while the errors-in-variables problems have been dealt with extensively in the literature, the inconsistencies in standard mobility measures due to lifecycle effects have attracted much less attention. The present paper proposes an estimation method that corrects for such inconsistencies. The extent of this lifecycle bias is found to be strong in Germany but only modest in the US.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany in its series SFB 649 Discussion Papers with number SFB649DP2006-055.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hum:wpaper:sfb649dp2006-055

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Keywords: Intergenerational mobility; lifecycle bias; comparison of Germany and the US;

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  1. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  2. Mookherjee, Dilip & Ray, Debraj, 2002. "Persistent Inequality," Discussion Paper 57, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
  4. 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.
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  8. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  9. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  10. Grawe, Nathan D., 2006. "Lifecycle bias in estimates of intergenerational earnings persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 551-570, October.
  11. Dilip Mookherjee & Debraj Ray, 2002. "Is Equality Stable?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 253-259, May.
  12. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
  13. Alexandra L. Minicozzi, 2003. "Estimation of sons' intergenerational earnings mobility in the presence of censoring," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(3), pages 291-314.
  14. Newey, Whitney K. & McFadden, Daniel, 1986. "Large sample estimation and hypothesis testing," Handbook of Econometrics, in: R. F. Engle & D. McFadden (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 36, pages 2111-2245 Elsevier.
  15. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  16. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
  17. Freeman, Scott, 1996. "Equilibrium Income Inequality among Identical Agents," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1047-64, October.
  18. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
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