IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Intergenerational Mobility and the Informative Content of Surnames

  • Maia Güell
  • José V. Rodríguez Mora
  • Chris Telmer

We propose an alternative method for measuring intergenerational mobility. Traditional methods based on panel data provide measurements that are scarce, difficult to compare across countries and almost impossible to get across time. In particular this means that we do not know how intergenerational mobility is correlated with growth, income or the degree of inequality. Our proposal is to measure the informative content of surnames in one census. The more information does the surname have on the income of an individual, the more important is background in determining outcomes; and thus, the less mobility there is. The reason for this is that surnames inform on family relationships because the distribution of surnames is necessarily much skewed. A large percentage of the population is bound to have a very unfrequent surname. For them the partition generated by surnames is very informative on family linkages. First, we develop a model whose endogenous variable is the joint distribution of surnames and income. Then we explore the relationship between mobility and the informative content of surnames. We allow for assortative mating to be a determinant of both. Then, we use our methodology to show that in a large Spanish region the informative content of surnames is large and consistent with the model. We also show that it has increased over time, indicating a substantial drop in the degree of mobility. Finally, using the peculiarities of the Spanish surname convention we show that the degree of assortative mating has also increased over time, in such a manner that might explain the decrease in mobility observed. Our method allows us to provide measures of mobility comparable across time. It should also allow us to study other issues related to inheritance.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0810.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0810
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gary Solon & Mary Corcoran & GRoger Gordon & Deborah Laren, 1991. "A Longitudinal Analysis of Sibling Correlations in Economic Status," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(3), pages 509-534.
  2. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  3. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Intergenerational economic mobility in the U.S., 1940 to 2000," Working Paper Series WP-05-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. repec:cor:louvrp:-1676 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  6. DE LA CROIX, David & DOEPKE, Matthias, 2001. "Inequality and Growth : Why Differential Fertility Matters," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2001008, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  7. Oriol Aspachs-Bracons & Irma Clots-Figueras & Joan Costa-Font & Paolo Masella, 2008. "Compulsory Language Educational Policies and Identity Formation," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(2-3), pages 434-444, 04-05.
  8. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1986. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages S1-39, July.
  9. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
  10. Behrman, Jere & Tarbman, Paul, 1985. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the United States: Some Estimates and a Test of Becker's Intergenerational Endowments Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 144-51, February.
  11. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:1:p:273-344 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
  13. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
  14. Angelucci, Manuela & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Rangel, Marcos A. & Rasul, Imran, 2009. "Family Networks and School Enrolment: Evidence from a Randomized Social Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 4497, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Ramon Marimon & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 1997. "Unemployment vs. Mismatch of Talents: Reconsidering Unemployment Benefits," NBER Working Papers 6038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. repec:oup:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:3:p:551-84 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Shimer, R. & Smith, L., 1997. "Assortative Matching and Search," Working papers 97-2b, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Pascual, Marta, 2009. "Intergenerational income mobility: The transmission of socio-economic status in Spain," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 835-846, November.
  19. Parman, John, 2011. "American Mobility and the Expansion of Public Education," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 71(01), pages 105-132, March.
  20. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  21. Laura Chadwick & Gary Solon, 2002. "Intergenerational Income Mobility Among Daughters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 335-344, March.
  22. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are emily and greg more employable than lakisha and jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination," Natural Field Experiments 00216, The Field Experiments Website.
  23. Peter Gottschalk & Enrico Spolaore, 2002. "On the Evaluation of Economic Mobility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 191-208.
  24. Lam. D. & Schoeni, R.F., 1996. "Effects on Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from Brazil," Papers 96-13, RAND - Reprint Series.
  25. Kenneth A. Couch & Thomas A. Dunn, 1995. "Intergenerational Correlations in Labor Market Status: A Comparison of the United States and Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 111, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  26. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  27. Dahan, Momi & Gaviria, Alejandro, 2001. "Sibling Correlations and Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(3), pages 537-54, April.
  28. Holmlund, Helena, 2006. "Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating. Effects of an Educational Reform," Working Paper Series 4/2006, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  29. Gavilan, Angel, 2012. "Wage inequality, segregation by skill and the price of capital in an assignment model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 116-137.
  30. Raquel Fernandez & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2001. "Love and Money: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Household Sorting and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 8580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Andrés Romeu & M. Dolores Collado & Ignacio Ortuño Ortín, 2006. "Vertical Transmission Of Consumption Behavior And The Distribution Of Surnames," Working Papers. Serie AD 2006-09, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  32. Leigh Andrew, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility in Australia," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-28, December.
  33. Javier Ortega, 2007. "Determinantes del nivel de catalán de los inmigrantes en Cataluña: Un análisis de sección cruzada a nivel comarcal," Working Papers 2007-25, FEDEA.
  34. Björklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor & Jäntti, Markus & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Österbacka, Eva, 2000. "Brother Correlations in Earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden Compared to the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 158, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  35. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
  36. Susan E. Mayer & Leonard M. Lopoo, 2001. "Has the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status Changed?," Working Papers 0116, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  37. Nathan D. Grawe, 2010. "Primary and Secondary School Quality and Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(4), pages 331 - 364.
  38. Osterbacka, Eva, 2001. " Family Background and Economic Status in Finland," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(3), pages 467-84, September.
  39. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:1:p:115-39 is not listed on IDEAS
  40. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:3:p:767-805 is not listed on IDEAS
  41. Simona Comi, 2004. "Intergenerational mobility in Europe: evidence from ECHP," CHILD Working Papers wp18_04, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
  42. Marianne E. Page & Gary Solon, 2003. "Correlations between Brothers and Neighboring Boys in Their Adult Earnings: The Importance of Being Urban," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(4), pages 831-856, October.
  43. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:1:p:273-344 is not listed on IDEAS
  44. Lillard, L.A. & Kilburn, M.R., 1995. "Intergenerational Earnings Links: Sons and Daughters," Papers 95-17, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  45. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1305-1341 is not listed on IDEAS
  46. Osterberg, Torun, 2000. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden: What Do Tax-Data Show?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(4), pages 421-36, December.
  47. John Ermisch & Marco Francesconi & Thomas Siedler, 2006. "Intergenerational Mobility and Marital Sorting," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 659-679, 07.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0810. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.