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Social Mobility: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

  • Sebastián Galiani

    (Maryland University)

The definition of social mobility is a matter of debate. In the following discussion, conceptual issues in the literature on mobility are commented. This paper defines social mobility as a situation in which the relative economic status of an agent is not dependent on starting conditions such as parental income or family background. Analyzing the determinants of mobility involves exploring the channels through which offspring’s income is correlated to its parents’, such as inherited bequest, education, skills, among many others. This survey explores, in an analytical framework, the relation between social mobility and inequality, among other important dimensions of income distribution that are jointly determined. The focus is on the relevance of social mobility as it affects variables determining welfare and economic efficiency, and therefore on policies to promote it.

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File URL: http://economica.econo.unlp.edu.ar/documentos/20131216094446AM_Economica_588.pdf
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Article provided by Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata in its journal Económica.

Volume (Year): 59 (2013)
Issue (Month): (January-December)
Pages: 167-229

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Handle: RePEc:lap:journl:588
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  1. Lakshmi K. Raut, 1996. "Signalling equilibrium, Intergenerational mobility and long-run growth," GE, Growth, Math methods 9603002, EconWPA.
  2. Thomas Piketty, 1994. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Working papers 94-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746, May.
  4. 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.
  5. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 11331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Hassler & Jose V. Rodriguez Mora & Joseph Zeira, 2007. "Inequality and Mobility," ESE Discussion Papers 165, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  7. Owen, Ann L. & Weil, David N., 1998. "Intergenerational earnings mobility, inequality and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 71-104, February.
  8. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2000. "Who wants to redistribute?: The tunnel effect in 1990s Russia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 87-104, April.
  9. C. Graham & S. Pettinato, 2002. "Frustrated Achievers: Winners, Losers and Subjective Well-Being in New Market Economies," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 100-140.
  10. Jose V. Rodriguez Mora & John Hassler, 2000. "Intelligence, Social Mobility, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 888-908, September.
  11. Robert Sugden, 2004. "Living with unfairness: The limits of equal opportunity in a market economy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 211-236, 02.
  12. Harms, Philipp & Zink, Stefan, 2003. " Eating the Rich vs. Feeding the Poor: Borrowing Constraints and the Reluctance to Redistribute," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 116(3-4), pages 351-66, September.
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