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Rich Dad, Smart Dad: Decomposing the Intergenerational Transmission of Income

We construct a simple model, consistent with Becker and Tomes (1979), that decomposes the intergenerational income elasticity into the causal effect of financial resources, the mechanistic transmission of human capital, and the role that human capital plays in the determination of father’s permanent income. We show how a particular set of instrumental variables could separately identify the money and human capital transmission effects. We further outline two instrumental variables methods for bounding the structural parameters of our model in the presence of imperfect instruments. Using data from a thirty-five percent sample of Swedish sons and their fathers, we show that only a minority of the intergenerational income elasticity can be plausibly attributed to the causal effect of fathers’ financial resources.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2009:19.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 10 Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2009_0019
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Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

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Fax: +46 8 16 14 25
Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/
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  1. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Uusitalo, Roope & Kerr, Sari, 2009. "School tracking and intergenerational income mobility: Evidence from the Finnish comprehensive school reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 965-973, August.
  2. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2010. "Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden: Capitalist dynasties in the land of equal opportunity?," Working Paper Series 9/2010, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  3. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Derek Neal, 1998. "The Link between Ability and Specialization: An Explanation for Observed Correlations between Wages and Mobility Rates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 173-200.
  5. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
  6. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2005. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1739, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Björklund Anders & Hederos Eriksson Karin & Jäntti Markus, 2010. "IQ and Family Background: Are Associations Strong or Weak?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-14, January.
  8. 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.
  9. Anders Bjorklund & Markus Jantti & Gary Solon, 2007. "Nature and Nurture in the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Swedish Children and Their Biological and Rearing Parents," NBER Working Papers 12985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bjorklund, Anders & Chadwick, Laura, 2003. "Intergenerational income mobility in permanent and separated families," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 239-246, August.
  11. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan & Lindsey Macmillan, 2006. "Accounting for Intergenerational Income Persistence: Non-Cognitive Skills, Ability and Education," CEE Discussion Papers 0073, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  12. 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.
  13. Nathan D. Grawe, 2004. "Reconsidering the Use of Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility as a Test for Credit Constraints," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  14. Gouskova, Elena & Chiteji, Ngina & Stafford, Frank, 2010. "Estimating the intergenerational persistence of lifetime earnings with life course matching: Evidence from the PSID," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 592-597, June.
  15. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Piraino Patrizio, 2007. "Comparable Estimates of Intergenerational Income Mobility in Italy," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-27, October.
  17. 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.
  18. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell Gunnar & Vaage, Kjell, 2005. "Educational Attainment and Family Background," Working Papers in Economics 10/05, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  19. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  20. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
  21. Anders Bohlmark & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Replication and Extension for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 879-900, October.
  22. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  23. Casey B. Mulligan, 1999. "Galton versus the Human Capital Approach to Inheritance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S184-S224, December.
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