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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Jäntti, Markus & Bratsberg,Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Österbacka, Eva & Björklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor, 2007. "American exceptionalism in a new light : a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 781, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Leigh Andrew, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility in Australia," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-28, December.
  6. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2005. "Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 11832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Abdurrahman Aydemir & Wen-Hao Chen & Miles Corak, 2009. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility among the Children of Canadian Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(2), pages 377-397, May.
  8. 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.
  9. Heisz, Andrew & Corak, Miles, 1999. "Death and Divorce: The Long-term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999135e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  10. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  11. Grawe, Nathan D., 2006. "Lifecycle bias in estimates of intergenerational earnings persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 551-570, October.
  12. 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.
  13. Chul-In Lee & Gary Solon, 2006. "Trends in Intergenerational Income Mobility," NBER Working Papers 12007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina, 2001. "Mothers and others: who invests in children's health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 301-328, May.
  15. 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.
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  18. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
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  22. repec:pri:cheawb:case_paxson_economic_status_paper is not listed on IDEAS
  23. 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.
  24. Andrew Christie & Sarah Moritz, 2007. "Australia," Chapters, in: Innovation Without Patents, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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