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Vive la différence » ? Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in France and the U.S. in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Author

Listed:
  • Jérôme Bourdieu

    (INRA)

  • Joseph Ferrie

    (Northwestern University and NBER)

  • Lionel Kesztenbaum

    (INED and Université d'Evry)

Abstract

Though rates of intergenerational mobility differ little between the U.S. and Europe today, attitudes toward redistribution – that should reflect at least in part those rates – differ substantially. We examine the differences in intergenerational mobility between the U.S. and France since the middle of the nineteenth century to trace the path these economies have followed to the choice of their modern redistributive regimes. We use data for both countries that allows us to compare the occupations of fathers and sons across up to thirty years. The results demonstrate that, as a variety of commentators noted, the U.S. was a considerably more mobile economy in the past, though such differences are far from apparent today. The nineteenth century differences between France and the U.S., as well as the changes in each country over time, correspond to patterns of public investment in education.

Suggested Citation

  • Jérôme Bourdieu & Joseph Ferrie & Lionel Kesztenbaum, 2006. "Vive la différence » ? Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in France and the U.S. in the 19th and 20th Centuries," Documents de recherche 06-10, Centre d'Études des Politiques Économiques (EPEE), Université d'Evry Val d'Essonne.
  • Handle: RePEc:eve:wpaper:06-10
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    File URL: http://epee.univ-evry.fr/RePEc/2006/06-10.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    2. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
    3. Roland Benabou & Efe A. Ok, 2001. "Social Mobility and the Demand for Redistribution: The Poum Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 447-487.
    4. Joseph P. Ferrie, 2005. "History Lessons: The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the United States Since 1850," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 199-215, Summer.
    5. Daniel Bertaux, 1970. "L'hérédité sociale en France," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 9(1), pages 37-47.
    6. 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.
    7. Nathan D. Grawe & Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 45-58, Summer.
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