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Consolidating the Evidence on Income Mobility in the Western States of Germany and the U.S. from 1984-2006

  • Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk
  • Richard V. Burkhauser
  • Kenneth A. Couch

The cross-national intragenerational income mobility literature assumes within-country mobility is invariant over the period measured. We argue that a great social transformation--German reunification-- abruptly and permanently altered economic mobility. Using standard measures of mobility (with panel data for the western states of Germany and the U.S.) over the entire period 1984-2006, we find the conventional result that income mobility is greater in Germany. But when we cut the data into moving five-year windows and compare mobility before and after reunification, income mobility declines significantly over the years immediately following reunification in Germany but not in the U.S.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18618.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as CONSOLIDATING THE EVIDENCE ON INCOME MOBILITY IN THE WESTERN STATES OF GERMANY AND THE UNITED STATES FROM 1984 TO 2006 GULGUN BAYAZ-OZTURK1, RICHARD V. BURKHAUSER2 andKENNETH A. COUCH3 Article first published online: 7 JUN 2013 DOI: 10.1111/ecin.12025 © 2013 Western Economic Association International Issue Economic Inquiry Economic Inquiry Volume 52, Issue 1, pages 431–443, January 2014
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18618
Note: LS
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  1. Shorrocks, Anthony, 1978. "Income inequality and income mobility," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 376-393, December.
  2. Jenkins, Stephen P. & Van Kerm, Philippe, 2003. "Trends in income inequality, pro-poor income growth and income mobility," IRISS Working Paper Series 2003-11, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  3. Grabka, Markus M. & Schwarze, Johannes & Wagner, Gert G., 1999. "How Unification and Immigration Affected the German Income Distribution," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 867-878.
  4. Charlotte Bartels & Timm Bönke, 2010. "German Male Income Volatility 1984 to 2008: Trends in Permanent and Transitory Income Components and the Role of the Welfare State," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 325, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Philippe Van Kerm, 2004. "What Lies Behind Income Mobility? Reranking and Distributional Change in Belgium, Western Germany and the USA," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(281), pages 223-239, 05.
  6. Wen-Hao Chen, 2009. "Cross-National Differences In Income Mobility: Evidence From Canada, The United States, Great Britain And Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(1), pages 75-100, 03.
  7. Biewen, Martin, 2002. "The Covariance Structure of East and West German Incomes and its Implications for the Persistence of Poverty and Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 459, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 2009. "The Rising Instability of U.S. Earnings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
  9. Biewen, Martin, 2002. "Bootstrap inference for inequality, mobility and poverty measurement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 317-342, June.
  10. Esfandiar Maasoumi & Mark Trede, 2001. "Comparing Income Mobility In Germany And The United States Using Generalized Entropy Mobility Measures," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 551-559, August.
  11. Frick, Joachim R. & Jenkings, Stephen P. & Lillard, Dean R. & Lipps, Oliver & Wooden, Mark, 2007. "The Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF) and Its Member Country Household Panel Studies," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 627-654.
  12. Sastre, Mercedes & Ayala, Luis, 2002. "Europe vs. the United States: is there a trade-off between mobility and inequality?," ISER Working Paper Series 2002-26, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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