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The growing importance of family and community: an analysis of changes in the sibling correlation in earnings


  • David I. Levine
  • Bhashkar Mazumder


This study presents evidence that the correlation in brothers’ earnings has risen in recent decades. We use two distinct cohorts of young men from the National Longitudinal Surveys and estimate that the correlation in earnings between brothers rose from 0.26 to 0.45. This suggests that family and community influences shared by siblings have become increasingly important in determining economic outcomes. We find that neither the correlation in years of schooling nor the rising return to schooling accounts for this increase. We also argue that the PSID is not an appropriate dataset for analyzing changes over time because of its sampling design, small sample of siblings, and high attrition rate.

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  • David I. Levine & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2003. "The growing importance of family and community: an analysis of changes in the sibling correlation in earnings," Working Paper Series WP-03-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-03-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Susan E. Mayer & Leonard M. Lopoo, 2005. "Has the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status Changed?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    2. 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.
    3. Markus Jäntti & Eva Österbacka & Oddbjörn Raaum & Tor Eriksson & Anders Björklund, 2002. "Brother correlations in earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden compared to the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(4), pages 757-772.
    4. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2001. "Earnings mobility in the US: a new look at intergenerational inequality," Working Paper Series WP-01-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. 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.
    6. David I. Levine & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2002. "Choosing the right parents: changes in the intergenerational transmission of inequality between 1980 and the early 1990s," Working Paper Series WP-02-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Gender, Body Mass and Economic Status," NBER Working Papers 11343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Dalton Conley & Rebecca Glauber, 2005. "Sibling Similarity and Difference in Socioeconomic Status: Life Course and Family Resource Effects," NBER Working Papers 11320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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