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Relative Intragenerational Economic Mobility: A Cross-Period Analysis from 1968 to 2009


  • John E Silvia
  • Tim Quinlan
  • Joseph Seydl


Recent debate about income inequality has occurred with good reason, as changes in income inequality are critically important for long-term economic prosperity, business profitability, and particularly for the quality and accessibility of labor in the market today. However, what is equally important and less discussed is economic mobility, or the capacity of an individual or a family to improve their financial standing, specifically as it relates to income and wealth. In this paper, we examine statistics on economic mobility in the United States. Our findings suggest that while economic mobility still exists, the likelihood of a household making a large jump out of poverty and into wealth declined from 1999 to 2009. The message of our findings to policymakers is that, rather than a redistribution of wealth from the top of the income distribution to the bottom, what is really needed is broader access to affordable education, better essential nutrition, more stable early childhood development experiences, and basic financial literacy training for all income groups.

Suggested Citation

  • John E Silvia & Tim Quinlan & Joseph Seydl, 2013. "Relative Intragenerational Economic Mobility: A Cross-Period Analysis from 1968 to 2009," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 67-76, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:buseco:v:48:y:2013:i:1:p:67-76

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