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Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Great Britain and the United States since 1850

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  • Jason Long
  • Joseph Ferrie

Abstract

The US tolerates more inequality than Europe and believes its economic mobility is greater than Europe?s, though they had roughly equal rates of intergenerational occupational mobility in the late twentieth century. We extend this comparison into the nineteenth century using 10,000 nationally-representative British and US fathers and sons. The US was more mobile than Britain through 1900, so in the experience of those who created the US welfare state in the 1930s, the US had indeed been ?exceptional.? The US mobility lead over Britain was erased by the 1950s, as US mobility fell from its nineteenth century levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2013. "Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Great Britain and the United States since 1850," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1109-1137, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:4:p:1109-37 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.4.1109
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    2. Joseph P. Ferrie, 2005. "History Lessons: The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the United States Since 1850," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 199-215, Summer.
    3. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg00-1.
    4. Robert A. Margo, 2000. "Wages and Labor Markets in the United States, 1820-1860," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg00-1.
    5. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
    6. Nathan D. Grawe & Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 45-58, Summer.
    7. Galenson, David W., 1991. "Economic Opportunity on the urban frontier: nativity, work, and wealth in early chicago," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(03), pages 581-603, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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