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Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families

  • Becker, Gary S
  • Tomes, Nigel
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This paper develops a model of the transmission of earnings, assets, and consumption from parents to descendants. The model assumes utility-maximizing parents who are concerned about the welfare of their children. The degree of intergenerational mobility is determined by the interaction of this utility-maximizing behavior with investment and consumption opportunities in different gene rations and with different kinds of luck. The authors examine a number of empirical studies for different countries. Regression to the mean in earnings in rich countries appears to be rapid. Almost all the earnings advantages or disadvantages of ancestors are wiped out in three generations. Copyright 1986 by University of Chicago Press.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 4 (1986)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: S1-39

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:4:y:1986:i:3:p:s1-39
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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  1. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
  2. Pryor, Frederic L, 1973. "Simulation of the Impact of Social and Economic Institutions on the Size Distribution of Income and Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(1), pages 50-72, March.
  3. Peltzman, Sam, 1973. "The Effect of Government Subsidies-in-Kind on Private Expenditures: The Case of Higher Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-27, Jan.-Feb..
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 382-97, July.
  5. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
  6. Bowles, Samuel, 1972. "Schooling and Inequality from Generation to Generation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S219-S51, Part II, .
  7. Gary S. Becker & Robert J. Barro, . "A Reformulation of the Economic Theory of Fertility," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 85-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  8. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1976. "Intergenerational Transmission of Income and Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 436-40, May.
  9. Conlisk, John, 1974. "Can Equalization of Opportunity Reduce Social Mobility?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(1), pages 80-90, March.
  10. de Wolff, P. & van Slijpe, A. R. D., 1973. "The relation between income, intelligence, education and social background," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 235-264, October.
  11. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-98, September.
  12. Judith Blake, 1981. "Family size and the quality of children," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(4), pages 421-442, November.
  13. Loury, Glenn C, 1981. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Distribution of Earnings," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 843-67, June.
  14. Ehrlich, Isaac & Ben-Zion, Uri, 1976. "Asset Management, Allocation of Time, and Returns to Saving," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 558-86, December.
  15. Tinbergen, Jan, 1970. "A Positive and a Normative Theory of Income Distribution," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 16(3), pages 221-34, September.
  16. Benoit Mandelbrot, 1962. "Paretian Distributions and Income Maximization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 57-85.
  17. Menchik, Paul L, 1979. "Inter-generational Transmission of Inequality: An Empirical Study of Wealth Mobility," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(184), pages 349-62, November.
  18. Luigi L. Pasinetti, 1962. "Rate of Profit and Income Distribution in Relation to the Rate of Economic Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 267-279.
  19. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Shoven, John & Spivak, Avia, 1986. "The Effect of Annuity Insurance and Savings and Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S183-207, July.
  20. William T. Bielby & Robert M. Hauser, 1977. "Response Error in Earnings Functions for Nonblack Males," Sociological Methods & Research, SAGE Publishing, vol. 6(2), pages 241-280, November.
  21. Drazen, Allan, 1978. "Government Debt, Human Capital, and Bequests in a Life-Cycle Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(3), pages 505-16, June.
  22. Bevan, D L, 1979. "Inheritance and the Distribution of Wealth," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(184), pages 381-402, November.
  23. Tomes, Nigel, 1981. "The Family, Inheritance, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 928-58, October.
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