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Human Capital, Heterogeneity and Estimated Degrees of Intergenerational Mobility

  • Han, Song
  • Mulligan, Casey B

We study the parental investment model of intergenerational mobility, where heterogeneity in "innate" earnings ability and parents' altruism rate is explicitly modelled. We show that heterogeneity increases the difficulty of detecting the existence of borrowing constrained families. Conversely, the presence of heterogeneity means that economic and linear statistical models of inheritance generate similar intergenerational data on consumption and earnings. We also suggest that nay cross-country differences in intergenerational earnings mobility are more readily interpreted according to the heterogeneity of inherited ability, rather than optimal family responses to country-specific institutions for accumulating human capital.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 111 (2001)
Issue (Month): 470 (April)
Pages: 207-43

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:111:y:2001:i:470:p:207-43
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  1. Donal O'Neill; & Olive Sweetman, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain: Evidence from unemployment patterns," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n730997, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  2. Steven N. Durlauf, 1992. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-46, April.
  4. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  5. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  7. Tamura, Robert, 1991. "Income Convergence in an Endogenous Growth Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 522-40, June.
  8. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
  9. Becker, Gary S, 1989. "On the Economics of the Family: Reply to a Skeptic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 514-18, June.
  10. Solon, Gary, 1989. "Biases in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Correlations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 172-74, February.
  11. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-13, June.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
  13. Behrman, J.R. & Pollak, R.A. & Taubman, P., 1990. "The Wealth Model: Efficiency In Education And Distribution In The Family," Working Papers 90-16, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  14. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
  15. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  16. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1989. "Is Schooling "Mostly in the Genes"? Nature-N urture Decomposition Using Data on Relatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1425-46, December.
  17. Joseph G. Altonji & Fumio Hayashi & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1989. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 3046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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