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The Political Economy of Intergenerational Income Mobility

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  • Andrea Ichino
  • Loukas Karabarbounis
  • Enrico Moretti

Abstract

The intergenerational elasticity of income is generally considered one of the best summary measures of the degree to which a society gives equal opportunity of success to all its members, irrespective of their family background. We present a parsimonious political economy model and show how the interaction between private and collective decisions determines the equilibrium level of mobility. Contrary to what it is generally assumed, a low correlation between father income and son income is not always desirable, as it may imply more inefficiency due to the distortionary effects of mobility-enhancing public policies. Moreover, taking into account the heterogeneity in preferences for intergenerational mobility leads to the conclusion that even if a fully mobile society is desirable ex ante, it may not be politically sustainable ex post. Our model clarifies the structural parameters behind the widely studied intergenerational elasticity of income in terms of political economy forces. Finally, we show some empirical evidence on the relationship between intergenerational elasticity of income across countries and its underlying determinants that is consistent with the predictions of the model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15946.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis & Enrico Moretti, 2011. "The Political Economy Of Intergenerational Income Mobility," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(1), pages 47-69, 01.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15946

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Cited by:
  1. Nathalie Chusseau & Joel Hellier, 2012. "Education, Intergenerational Mobility and Inequality," Working Papers 261, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  2. Tetsuo Ono, 2013. "Inequality Dynamics and the Politics of Redistribution," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 12-09-Rev, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
  3. Arawatari, Ryo & Ono, Tetsuo, 2013. "Inequality, mobility and redistributive politics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(1), pages 353-375.
  4. Ada Ferrer-i-carbonell & X. Ramos & M. Oviedo, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Spain," GINI Country Reports spain, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  5. Bernasconi, Michele & Profeta, Paola, 2012. "Public education and redistribution when talents are mismatched," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 84-96.
  6. Sajid Amin Javed & Mohammad Irfan, 2012. "Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from Pakistan Panel Household Survey," Poverty and Social Dynamics Paper Series 2012:05, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
  7. Ryo Arawatari & Tetsuo Ono, 2009. "Inequality, Mobility and Redistributive Taxation in a Finance-constrained Economy," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 09-28, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).

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