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Economic Mobility, Family Background, and the Well-Being of Children in the United States and Canada

  • Corak, Miles

    ()

    (University of Ottawa)

  • Curtis, Lori

    ()

    (University of Waterloo)

  • Phipps, Shelley

    ()

    (Dalhousie University)

This comparative study of the relationship between family economic background and adult outcomes in the United States and Canada addresses three questions. First, is there something to explain? We suggest that the existing literature finds that there are significant differences in the degree of intergenerational economic mobility between these two countries, relative mobility being lower in the United States. This is the result of lower mobility at the very top and the very bottom of the earnings distribution. Second, does this reflect different underlying values of the citizens in these countries? Findings from comparable public opinion polls suggest that this is not the case. The citizens of both countries have a similar understanding of a successful life, one that is rooted in individual aspirations and freedom. They also have similar views on how these goals should be attained, but with one important exception: Americans differ in that they are more likely to see the State hindering rather than helping the attainment of these goals. Finally, how do the investments these countries make in the future of their children through the family, the labour market, and public policy actually differ? Using a number of representative household surveys we find that the configuration of all three sources of investment and support for children differs significantly, disadvantaged American children living in much more challenging circumstances, and the role of public policy not as strong in determining outcomes.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4814.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4814.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Timothy M. Smeeding et al. (eds.), Persistence, Privilege, and Parenting: The Comparative Study of Intergenerational Mobility, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2011. Parts also published (Miles Corak only) as 'Chasing the Same Dream, Climbing Different Ladders'. Washington: PEW Charitable Trusts, 2010
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4814
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  1. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  2. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," NBER Working Papers 8344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Miles Corak & Andrew Heisz, 1999. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian Men: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 504-533.
  4. 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.
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  8. Chen, Wen-Hao & Aydemir, Abdurrahman & Corak, Miles, 2005. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility Among the Children of Canadian Immigrants," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005267e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  9. David Card & John DiNardo & Eugena Estes, 1998. "The More Things Change: Immigrants and the Children of Immigrants in the 1940's, the 1970's, and the 1990's," JCPR Working Papers 30, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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  11. Helena Holmlund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2010. "The Causal Effect of Parents' Schooling on Children's Schooling - A Comparison of Estimation Methods," CESifo Working Paper Series 3234, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  13. 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.
  14. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2000. "Mothers and Others: Who Invests in Children’s Health?," Working Papers 277, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  15. Jäntti, Markus & Bratsberg, Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Österbacka, Eva & Bjørklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor, 2005. "American exceptionalism in a new light: a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States," Memorandum 34/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  16. Patrizio Piraino, 2006. "Comparable Estimates of Intergenerational Income Mobility in Italy," Department of Economics University of Siena 471, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  17. Miles Corak, . "Death and Divorce: The Long Term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 39, McMaster University.
  18. 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.
  19. Leigh Andrew, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility in Australia," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-28, December.
  20. Andrew Christie & Sarah Moritz, 2007. "Australia," Chapters, in: Innovation Without Patents, chapter 6 Edward Elgar.
  21. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
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  23. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
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  26. Philip Oreopoulos & Mark Stabile & Randy Walld & Leslie L. Roos, 2008. "Short-, Medium-, and Long-Term Consequences of Poor Infant Health: An Analysis Using Siblings and Twins," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  27. Peter Burton & Shelley Phipps & Lori Curtis, 2002. "All in the Family: A Simultaneous Model of Parenting Style and Child Conduct," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 368-372, May.
  28. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States, 1940 to 2000," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
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