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Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America

  • Jere R. Behrman
  • Alejandro Gaviria
  • Miguel Székely

High inequality has long been regarded as one of the main problems facing Latin American countries. To understand better the determinants of inequality and to help guide thinking about policy options, it is useful to know whether inequality mainly reflects low intergenerational mobility or whether it is driven by differences in individual characteristics that arise independently of family background. In this paper we use five household surveys with questions about parental socioeconomic characteristics for adults, and a set of 112 standard household surveys to examine the intergenerational transmission of schooling and occupational status in Latin America and the United States. We find that intergenerational mobility is much higher in the United States than in Latin America, that there are sizable differences in mobility within Latin America, and that mobility in Latin America is strongly associated with schooling levels and expenditures on education.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4267.

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Date of creation: Jun 2001
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4267
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  1. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  2. 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.
  3. Raquel Fernandez & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2001. "Love and Money: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Household Sorting and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 8580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Osterberg, Torun, 2000. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden: What Do Tax-Data Show?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(4), pages 421-36, December.
  5. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-46, December.
  6. Alesina, Alberto F & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Preferences for Redistribution in the Land of Opportunities," CEPR Discussion Papers 3155, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Suzanne Duryea & Jere R. Behrman & Miguel Székely, 1999. "Schooling Investments and Macroeconomic Conditions: A Micro-Macro Investigation for Latin America and the Caribbean," Research Department Publications 4184, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  8. Dahan, Momi & Gaviria, Alejandro, 2001. "Sibling Correlations and Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(3), pages 537-54, April.
  9. Michael Kremer & Eric Maskin, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1777, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Dardanoni Valentino, 1993. "Measuring Social Mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 372-394, December.
  11. Lam. D. & Schoeni, R.F., 1996. "Effects on Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from Brazil," Papers 96-13, RAND - Reprint Series.
  12. Borjas, George J, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-50, February.
  13. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1990. "The Intergenerational Correlation between Children's Adult Earnings and Their Parents' Income: Result from the Michigan Panel Survey of Income Dynamics," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 36(2), pages 115-27, June.
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