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Black-white differences in intergenerational economic mobility in the US

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  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

Traditional measures of intergenerational mobility such as the intergenerational elasticity are not useful for inferences concerning group differences in mobility with respect to the pooled income distribution. This paper uses transition probabilities and measures of “directional rank mobility” that can identify interracial differences in intergenerational mobility. The study uses two data sources, including one that contains social security earnings for a large intergenerational sample. I find that recent cohorts of blacks are not only significantly less upwardly mobile but also significantly more downwardly mobile than whites. This implies a steady-state distribution in which there is no racial convergence in income. A descriptive analysis using covariates reveals that test scores in adolescence can explain much of the racial difference in both upward and downward mobility. Family structure can account for some of the racial gap in upward mobility but not downward mobility. Completed schooling and parental wealth also appear to account for some of the racial gaps in intergenerational mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "Black-white differences in intergenerational economic mobility in the US," Working Paper Series WP-2011-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-2011-10
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hertz, Tom, 2008. "A group-specific measure of intergenerational persistence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(3), pages 415-417, September.
    2. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, K.J.Kathleen J., 2004. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 39-98.
    3. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "The Impact of Rosenwald Schools on Black Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(5), pages 821-888.
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    6. Kenneth Y. Chay & Jonathan Guryan & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2009. "Birth Cohort and the Black-White Achievement Gap: The Roles of Access and Health Soon After Birth," NBER Working Papers 15078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Debopam Bhattacharya & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2011. "A nonparametric analysis of black–white differences in intergenerational income mobility in the United States," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 2(3), pages 335-379, November.
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    1. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:1:p:187-201 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Orhan Torul & Oguz Oztunali, 2017. "Intergenerational Educational Mobility in Europe," Working Papers 2017/03, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    3. Mehtabul Azam, 2016. "Household Income Mobility in India, 1993-2011," Economics Working Paper Series 1705, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    4. Corak, Miles & Lindquist, Matthew J. & Mazumder, Bhashkar, 2014. "A comparison of upward and downward intergenerational mobility in Canada, Sweden and the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 185-200.
    5. repec:bla:revinw:v:62:y:2016:i:4:p:706-723 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. McDonough, Ian K., 2015. "Dynamics of the black–white gap in academic achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 17-33.

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    Keywords

    Intergenerational relations ; African Americans - Economic conditions;

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