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African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880

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  • William J. Collins
  • Marianne H. Wanamaker

Abstract

We document the intergenerational mobility of black and white American men from 1880 through 2000 by building new historical datasets and combining them with modern data to cover the middle and late twentieth century. We find large disparities, with white children having far better chances of escaping the bottom of the income distribution than black children in every generation. This mobility gap was more important in proximately determining each generation’s racial income gap than was the gap in parents’ economic status. Evidence suggests that human capital disparities, conditional on parents’ status, underpinned a substantial part of the mobility gap.

Suggested Citation

  • William J. Collins & Marianne H. Wanamaker, 2017. "African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880," NBER Working Papers 23395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23395
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-004, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. Olivetti, Claudia & Paserman, M. Daniele & Salisbury, Laura, 2018. "Three-generation mobility in the United States, 1850–1940: The role of maternal and paternal grandparents," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 73-90.
    3. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2020. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism” in the United States," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(6), pages 2329-2368, November.
    4. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2018. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series dp-302, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    5. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Dylan Connor, 2020. "Leaving the Enclave: Historical Evidence on Immigrant Mobility from the Industrial Removal Office," NBER Working Papers 27372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Collins, William J. & Zimran, Ariell, 2019. "The economic assimilation of Irish Famine migrants to the United States," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    7. Aneja, Abhay & Xu, Guo, 2020. "The Costs of Employment Segregation: Evidence from the Federal Government under Wilson," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt7sw871kr, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
    8. Martha Bailey & Connor Cole & Morgan Henderson & Catherine Massey, 2017. "How Well Do Automated Linking Methods Perform? Lessons from U.S. Historical Data," NBER Working Papers 24019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Brantly Callaway & Weige Huang, 2018. "Intergenerational Income Mobility: Counterfactual Distributions with a Continuous Treatment," DETU Working Papers 1801, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    10. William J. Collins & Ariell Zimran, 2019. "Working Their Way Up? US Immigrants' Changing Labor Market Assimilation in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 26414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Zachary Ward, 2019. "Internal Migration, Education and Upward Rank Mobility:Evidence from American History," CEH Discussion Papers 04, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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