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Has the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status Changed?

  • Susan E. Mayer
  • Leonard M. Lopoo

We use data from the PSID to assess whether the effect of parental income on son's economic status has changed for cohorts born between 1949 and 1965. We find that the effect of parental income on sons' family income and wages at age thirty declined over this period. This was largely because the effect of parental income on son's years of schooling declined. The decline in the effect of parental income is not part of an overall decline in the effect of family background. The effect of parents' education on sons' economic status did not decline and may have increased and the effect of other family background characteristics hardly changed. We suggest that the decline in the effect of parental income on son's income may be due to the increase in government investment in children, especially in their educational attainment.

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Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0116.

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Date of creation: Jun 2001
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Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0116
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  1. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-29, May.
  3. David Grusky & Thomas DiPrete, 1990. "Recent trends in the process of stratification," Demography, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 617-637, November.
  4. 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.
  5. John Fitzgerald & Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1998. "An Analysis of the Impact of Sample Attrition on the Second Generation of Respondents in the Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 300-344.
  6. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
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