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Choosing the Right Parents: Changes in the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality Between the 1970s and the early 1990s

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  • Levine, David I.

Abstract

This paper uses the General Social survey and the comparison between the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Men and of Youth to measure how returns to young men's family background have changed from the late 1970's to the late 1980's and early 1990's. Coming from a wealthy family and having a well-educated father who worked in a high-prestige occupation were much more powerful predictors of a young man's success in the later period. In contrast, maternal education was less important in determining a young man's income and educational attainment. Rising returns to education coupled with a constant relation between family background and education explains most of the rising importance of family background.

Suggested Citation

  • Levine, David I., 1999. "Choosing the Right Parents: Changes in the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality Between the 1970s and the early 1990s," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt9r45b10r, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt9r45b10r
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gaviria, Alejandro, 2002. "Intergenerational mobility, sibling inequality and borrowing constraints," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 331-340, August.
    2. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-513, June.
    3. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-1381, September.
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    5. Joseph G. Altonji & Thomas A. Dunn, 1991. "Relationships Among the Family Incomes and Labor Market Outcomes of Relatives," NBER Working Papers 3724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Patterns of Intergenerational Mobility in Income and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 456-466, August.
    7. Gintis, Herbert, 1971. "Education, Technology, and the Characteristics of Worker Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 266-279, May.
    8. A. B. Atkinson, 1981. "On Intergenerational Income Mobility in Britain," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 194-218, January.
    9. Michael Kremer, 1997. "How Much does Sorting Increase Inequality?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 115-139.
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    11. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1996. "Does It Pay To Attend An Elite Private College? Cross Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Quality on Earnings," NBER Working Papers 5613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Christina D'Addio, 2007. "Intergenerational Transmission of Disadvantage: Mobility or Immobility Across Generations?," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
    2. Harding, David J. & Jencks, Christopher & Lopoo, Leonard M. & Mayer, Susan E., 2003. "The Changing Effect of Family Background on the Incomes of American Adults," Working Paper Series rwp03-045, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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