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On the Evaluation of Economic Mobility

  • Gottschalk, Peter
  • Spolaore, Enricco

This paper presents a framework for the evaluation and measurement of "reversal" and "origin independence" as separate aspects of economic mobility. We show that evaluation depends on aversion to multi-period inequality, aversion to inter-temporal fluctuations, and aversion to future risk. We construct "extended Atkinson indices" that allow us to quantify the relative impact of reversal and origin independence on welfare. We apply our approach to the comparison of income mobility in Germany and in the U.S.. When aversion to inequality is the only consideration, the U.S. gains more from mobility than Germany. This reflects similar gains from reversal in the two countries but greater gains in the U.S. from origin independence. The introduction of aversion to intertemporal fluctuations and aversion to future risk makes the impact of mobility in the two countries more similar. Copyright 2002 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 69 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 191-208

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Handle: RePEc:bla:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:1:p:191-208
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  1. Mervyn A. King, 1980. "An Index of Inequality: With Applications to Horizontal Equity and Social Mobility," NBER Working Papers 0468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Di Tella, Rafael & Alesina, Alberto & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and Happiness: Are Europeans and Americans Different?," Scholarly Articles 4553007, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Aaberge, Rolf & Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Palme, Mårten & Pedersen, Peder & Smith, Nina & Wennemo, Tom, 1996. "Income Inequality and Income Mobility in the Scandinavian Countries Compared to the United States," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 98, Stockholm School of Economics, revised Aug 2002.
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  6. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Mobility as Progressivity: Ranking Income Processes According to Equality of Opportunity," NBER Working Papers 8431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Anders Björklund & Markus Jäntti, 2000. "Intergenerational mobility of socio-economic status in comparative perspective," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 3-32.
  8. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1979. "Dynamic Choice Theory and Dynamic Programming," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 91-100, January.
  9. Galor, O. & Tsiddon, D., 1996. "Technological Progress, Mobility and Economic Growth," Papers 13-96, Tel Aviv.
  10. Markandya, Anil, 1982. "Intergenerational exchange mobility and economic welfare," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 307-324.
  11. Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
  12. Fields, Gary S. & Ok, Efe A., 1996. "The Meaning and Measurement of Income Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 349-377, November.
  13. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
  14. Christopher J. Flinn, 2002. "Labour Market Structure and Inequality: A Comparison of Italy and the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 611-645.
  15. Kreps, David M. & Porteus, Evan L., 1979. "Temporal von neumann-morgenstern and induced preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 81-109, February.
  16. King, Mervyn A, 1983. "An Index of Inequality: With Applications to Horizontal Equity and Social Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 99-115, January.
  17. Judd, Kenneth L., 1985. "The law of large numbers with a continuum of IID random variables," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 19-25, February.
  18. Epstein, Larry G & Wang, Tan, 1994. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Under Knightian Uncertainty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 283-322, March.
  19. Weil, Philippe, 1990. "Nonexpected Utility in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 29-42, February.
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  25. Atkinson, Anthony B & Bourguignon, Francois, 1982. "The Comparison of Multi-Dimensioned Distributions of Economic Status," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 183-201, April.
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  27. Shorrocks, Anthony, 1978. "Income inequality and income mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 376-393, December.
  28. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521424585 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  30. Shorrocks, A F, 1978. "The Measurement of Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1013-24, September.
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