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The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the U.S. Since 1850

  • Joseph P. Ferrie
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    New longitudinal data on individuals linked across nineteenth century U.S. censuses document the geographic and occupational mobility of more than 75,000 Americans from the 1850s to the 1920s. Together with longitudinal data for more recent years, these data make possible for the first time systematic comparisons of mobility over the last 150 years of American economic development, as well as cross-national comparisons for the nineteenth century. The U.S. was a substantially more mobile economy than Britain between 1850 and 1880. But both intergenerational occupational mobility and geographic mobility have declined in the U.S. since the beginning of the twentieth century, leaving much less apparent two aspects of the %u201CAmerican Exceptionalism%u201D noted by nineteenth century observers.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11324.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11324.

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    Date of creation: May 2005
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    Publication status: published as Ferrie, Joseph P. "History Lessons: The End Of American Exceptionalism? Mobility In The United States Since 1850," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2005, v19(3,Summer), 199-215.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11324
    Note: DAE LS
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    2. Susan E. Mayer & Leonard M. Lopoo, 2005. "Has the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status Changed?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
    3. Ganzeboom, H.B.G. & de Graaf, P.M. & Treiman, D.J. & de Leeuw, J., 1992. "A standard international socio-economic index of occupational status," WORC Paper 85970031-d601-46e3-befb-1, Tilburg University, Work and Organization Research Centre.
    4. Thomas Piketty, 1994. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," Working papers 94-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. Gary Solon, 2002. "Cross-Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 59-66, Summer.
    6. Jason Long & Joseph Ferrie, 2005. "A Tale of Two Labor Markets: Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Britain and the U.S. Since 1850," NBER Working Papers 11253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
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