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Intergenerational Persistence in Income and Social Class: The Impact of Increased Inequality

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  • Jo Blanden
  • Paul Gregg
  • Lindsey Macmillan

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Abstract

Sociologists and economists reach quite different conclusions about how intergenerational mobility in the UK compares for those growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Persistence in social class is found to be unchanged while family income is found to be more closely related to sons’ earnings for those born in 1970 compared to those born in the 1958. We investigate the reasons for the contrast and find that they are not due to methodological differences or data quality. Rather, they are explained by the increased importance of differences in income within social class for sons’ earnings in the second cohort. When economists measure intergenerational mobility their ideal is to see how permanent income is transmitted across generations. Our investigations show that the importance of within-social class differences in income mean that a single measure of income is a better predictor of permanent income status than fathers’ social class. We would not, therefore, expect the results for changes in intergenerational mobility based on income and social class to necessarily coincide.

Suggested Citation

  • Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2008. "Intergenerational Persistence in Income and Social Class: The Impact of Increased Inequality," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/195, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:08/195
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    File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2008/wp195.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2007. "Accounting for Intergenerational Income Persistence: Noncognitive Skills, Ability and Education," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages 43-60, March.
    2. Johnson, Paul & Webb, Steven, 1993. "Explaining the Growth in UK Income Inequality: 1979-1988," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 429-435, March.
    3. Singh, S K & Maddala, G S, 1976. "A Function for Size Distribution of Incomes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 963-970, September.
    4. Nicoletti Cheti & Ermisch John F, 2008. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Changes across Cohorts in Britain," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-38, January.
    5. 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.
    6. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    7. Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The Changing Distribution of Male Wages in the U.K," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 635-666.
    8. Nathan D . Grawe, 2004. "The 3-day Week of 1974 and Earnings Data Reliability in the Family Expenditure Survey and the National Child Development Study," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 66(4), pages 567-579, September.
    9. Anders Björklund & Markus Jäntti, 2000. "Intergenerational mobility of socio-economic status in comparative perspective," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26, pages 3-32.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intergenerational mobility; Earnings; social class;

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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