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The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the U.S. Since 1850

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  • Joseph P. Ferrie
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    Abstract

    New longitudinal data on individuals linked across nineteenth century U.S. censuses document the geographic and occupational mobility of more than 75,000 Americans from the 1850s to the 1920s. Together with longitudinal data for more recent years, these data make possible for the first time systematic comparisons of mobility over the last 150 years of American economic development, as well as cross-national comparisons for the nineteenth century. The U.S. was a substantially more mobile economy than Britain between 1850 and 1880. But both intergenerational occupational mobility and geographic mobility have declined in the U.S. since the beginning of the twentieth century, leaving much less apparent two aspects of the %u201CAmerican Exceptionalism%u201D noted by nineteenth century observers.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11324.

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    Date of creation: May 2005
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    Publication status: published as Ferrie, Joseph P. "History Lessons: The End Of American Exceptionalism? Mobility In The United States Since 1850," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2005, v19(3,Summer), 199-215.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11324

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    1. Susan E. Mayer & Leonard Michael Lopoo, 2001. "Has the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status Changed?," JCPR Working Papers, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research 227, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    3. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
    4. Piketty, Thomas, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-84, August.
    5. Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2005. "A Tale of Two Labor Markets: Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Britain and the U.S. Since 1850," NBER Working Papers 11253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
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    Cited by:
    1. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1832-56, August.
    2. Carmen Aina & Cheti Nicoletti, 2014. "The intergenerational transmission of liberal professions: nepotism versus abilities," Discussion Papers, Department of Economics, University of York 14/14, Department of Economics, University of York.
    3. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Intergenerational economic mobility in the U.S., 1940 to 2000," Working Paper Series, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago WP-05-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    4. Nicolas Ziebarth, 2011. "Are China and India Backwards? Evidence from the 19th Century U.S. Census of Manufactures," 2011 Meeting Papers 138, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Pingle, Jonathan F., 2007. "A note on measuring internal migration in the United States," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 38-42, January.

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