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Human Capital, Heterogeneity and Estimated Degrees of Intergenerational Mobility

Listed author(s):
  • 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: 207-243

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:111:y:2001:i:470:p:207-43
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  1. 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 1153-1189, December.
  2. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1992. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1177-1198, December.
  3. 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 1425-1446, December.
  4. 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.
  5. Solon, Gary, 1989. "Biases in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Correlations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 172-174, February.
  6. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-513, June.
  7. O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 1998. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain: Evidence from Unemployment Patterns," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 60(4), pages 431-447, November.
  8. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  9. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
  10. 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 1-39, July.
  11. Stephen P. Zeldes, "undated". "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  12. Durlauf, Steven N, 1996. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 75-93, March.
  13. 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 818-834, August.
  14. Tamura, Robert, 1991. "Income Convergence in an Endogenous Growth Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 522-540, June.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 1059-1085, December.
  17. Becker, Gary S, 1989. "On the Economics of the Family: Reply to a Skeptic," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 514-518, June.
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