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Introduction to Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success

In: Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success

Author

Listed:
  • Samuel Bowles

    (Santa Fe Institute, University of Siena)

  • Herbert Gintis

    (Santa Fe Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

  • Melissa Osborne Groves

    (Towson University)

Abstract

Is the United States "the land of equal opportunity" or is the playing field tilted in favor of those whose parents are wealthy, well educated, and white? If family background is important in getting ahead, why? And if the processes that transmit economic status from parent to child are unfair, could public policy address the problem? Unequal Chances provides new answers to these questions by leading economists, sociologists, biologists, behavioral geneticists, and philosophers. New estimates show that intergenerational inequality in the United States is far greater than was previously thought. Moreover, while the inheritance of wealth and the better schooling typically enjoyed by the children of the well-to-do contribute to this process, these two standard explanations fail to explain the extent of intergenerational status transmission. The genetic inheritance of IQ is even less important. Instead, parent-offspring similarities in personality and behavior may play an important role. Race contributes to the process, and the intergenerational mobility patterns of African Americans and European Americans differ substantially. Following the editors' introduction are chapters by Greg Duncan, Ariel Kalil, Susan E. Mayer, Robin Tepper, and Monique R. Payne; Bhashkar Mazumder; David J. Harding, Christopher Jencks, Leonard M. Lopoo, and Susan E. Mayer; Anders Björklund, Markus Jäntti, and Gary Solon; Tom Hertz; John C. Loehlin; Melissa Osborne Groves; Marcus W. Feldman, Shuzhuo Li, Nan Li, Shripad Tuljapurkar, and Xiaoyi Jin; and Adam Swift.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis & Melissa Osborne Groves, 2008. "Introduction to Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success," Introductory Chapters,in: Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success Princeton University Press.
  • Handle: RePEc:pup:chapts:7838-1
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Grimalday, Gianluca & Karz, Anirban & Proto, Eugenio, 2012. "Everyone Wants a Chance: Initial Positions and Fairness in Ultimatum Games," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 93, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Erikson, Robert & Goldthorpe, John H., 2009. "Income and Class Mobility Between Generations in Great Britain: The Problem of Divergent Findings from the Data-sets of Birth Cohort Studies," Working Paper Series 4/2009, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    3. Coco, Giuseppe & Lagravinese, Raffaele, 2014. "Cronyism and education performance," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 443-450.
    4. Bauer, Michal & Chytilová, Julie & Pertold-Gebicka, Barbara, 2011. "Effects of Parental Background on Other-Regarding Preferences in Children," IZA Discussion Papers 6026, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilová & Barbara Pertold-Gebicka, 2014. "Parental background and other-regarding preferences in children," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 17(1), pages 24-46, March.
    6. Alice Kasakoff & Andrew Lawson & Emily Van Meter, 2014. "A Bayesian analysis of the spatial concentration of individual wealth in the US North during the nineteenth century," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(36), pages 1035-1074, April.

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