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The Effect of Family Background on Economic Status: A Longitudinal Analysis of Sibling Correlations


  • Gary Solon
  • Mary Corcoran
  • Roger H. Gordon
  • Deborah Laren


Numerous previous studies have used sibling correlations to measure the importance of family background as a determinant of economic status. These studies. however. have been biased by several flaws: failure to separate permanent from transitory status variation (including that from measurement error). failure to account for life-cycle stage. and overly homogeneous samples. This paper presents a methodology to address these problems and applies it to longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Our main conclusion is that family background appears to exert greater influence on economic status than has been indicated by earlier research.

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  • Gary Solon & Mary Corcoran & Roger H. Gordon & Deborah Laren, 1987. "The Effect of Family Background on Economic Status: A Longitudinal Analysis of Sibling Correlations," NBER Working Papers 2282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2282
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 143-162, August.
    2. Corcoran, Mary & Jencks, Christopher & Olneck, Michael, 1976. "The Effects of Family Background on Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 430-435, May.
    3. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 37-64, October.
    4. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
    5. Gary Solon, 1984. "Estimating Autocorrelations in Fixed-Effects Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0032, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-445, March.
    7. MacDonald, Glenn M & Robinson, Chris, 1985. "Cautionary Tails about Arbitrary Deletion of Observations; or, Throwing the Variance Out with the Bathwater," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 124-152, April.
    8. Manski, Charles F & Lerman, Steven R, 1977. "The Estimation of Choice Probabilities from Choice Based Samples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(8), pages 1977-1988, November.
    9. Kearl, J R & Pope, Clayne L, 1986. "Unobservable Family and Individual Contributions to the Distributionsof Income and Wealth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 48-79, July.
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    1. Gary Solon & Mary Corcoran & Roger Gordon & Deborah Laren, 1988. "Sibling and Intergenerational Correlations in Welfare Program Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(3), pages 388-396.

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