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Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States, 1940 to 2000

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  • Daniel Aaronson
  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

We estimate trends in intergenerational economic mobility by matching men in the Census to synthetic parents in the prior generation. We find that mobility increased from 1950 to 1980 but has declined sharply since 1980. While our estimator places greater weight on location effects than the standard intergenerational coefficient, the size of the bias appears to be small. Our preferred results suggest that earnings are regressing to the mean more slowly now than at any time since World War II, causing economic differences between families to become more persistent. However, current rates of positional mobility appear historically normal.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States, 1940 to 2000," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:43:y:2008:i:1:p139-172
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    1. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
    3. Manuel Arellano & Costas Meghir, 1992. "Female Labour Supply and On-the-Job Search: An Empirical Model Estimated Using Complementary Data Sets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 537-559.
    4. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 2005. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority? A Reassessment," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 370-397, April.
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