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Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity? Recent Trends in Intergenerational Mobility

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  • Raj Chetty
  • Nathaniel Hendren
  • Patrick Kline
  • Emmanuel Saez
  • Nicholas Turner

Abstract

We present new evidence on trends in intergenerational mobility in the U.S. using administrative earnings records. We find that percentile rank-based measures of intergenerational mobility have remained extremely stable for the 1971-1993 birth cohorts. For children born between 1971 and 1986, we measure intergenerational mobility based on the correlation between parent and child income percentile ranks. For more recent cohorts, we measure mobility as the correlation between a child’s probability of attending college and her parents’ income rank. We also calculate transition probabilities, such as a child’s chances of reaching the top quintile of the income distribution starting from the bottom quintile. Based on all of these measures, we find that children entering the labor market today have the same chances of moving up in the income distribution (relative to their parents) as children born in the 1970s. However, because inequality has risen, the consequences of the “birth lottery” – the parents to whom a child is born – are larger today than in the past.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19844.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Publication status: published as 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," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 141-47, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19844

Note: CH DAE EFG LS PE ED
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  1. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Patrick Kline & Emmanuel Saez, 2014. "Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States," NBER Working Papers 19843, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Abraham, Martin & Lorek, Kerstin & Richter, Friedemann & Wrede, Matthias, 2014. "Strictness of tax compliance norms: A factorial survey on the acceptance of inheritance tax evasion in Germany," IWQW Discussion Paper Series 07/2014, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Institut für Wirtschaftspolitik und Quantitative Wirtschaftsforschung (IWQW).
  2. Mazumder, Bhashkar, 2014. "Black–White Differences in Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the U.S," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 1-18.
  3. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Patrick Kline & Emmanuel Saez, 2014. "Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States," NBER Working Papers 19843, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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