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Wealth Mobility in America: A View from the National Longitudinal Survey

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  • Richard H. Steckel
  • Jayanthi Krishnan

Abstract

We depict and analyze wealth mobility in a national sample of nearly 4,000 households interviewed by the National Longitudinal Survey over a ten year period from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s. A transition matrix, the Shorrocks measure, average decile position for various subgroups, and wealth in period two compared with wealth in period one are used to describe patterns of wealth mobility. These results and regression models of change in percentile position, of persistence in the top, of movement into the top, of persistence into the bottom, and of movement into the bottom identify winners and losers. The losers include single people, blacks, and those who experienced marital disruption, while winners were the skilled and more educated. These findings have implications for the interpretation of cross-sectional measures of inequality, the explanation of long-term trends in wealth mobility, and the consequences of recent trends in the wage structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard H. Steckel & Jayanthi Krishnan, 1992. "Wealth Mobility in America: A View from the National Longitudinal Survey," NBER Working Papers 4137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4137
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Maria J. Hanratty & Rebecca M. Blank, 1992. "Down and Out in North America: Recent Trends in Poverty Rates in the United States and Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 233-254.
    2. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    3. Kearl, James R & Pope, Clayne L, 1984. "Mobility and Distribution," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(2), pages 192-199, May.
    4. Steckel, Richard H, 1990. "Poverty and Prosperity: A Longitudinal Study of Wealth Accumulation, 1850-1860," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 275-285, May.
    5. Wolff, Edward N, 1992. "Changing Inequality of Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 552-558, May.
    6. Wolff, Edward N, 1981. "The Accumulation of Household Wealth over the Life-Cycle: A Microdata Analysis," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 27(1), pages 75-96, March.
    7. E. Kenneth Grant & John Vanderkamp, 1980. "The Effects of Migration on Income: A Micro Study with Canadian Data, 1965-71," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 13(3), pages 381-406, August.
    8. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-560, September.
    9. Shorrocks, A F, 1978. "The Measurement of Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1013-1024, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Parman, "undated". "Gender and Intergenerational Mobility: Using Health Outcomes to Compare Intergenerational Mobility Across Gender and Over Time," Working Papers 122, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    2. Sommer, Mathias, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," Papers 08-12, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    3. Andrea Neri, 2009. "Measuring wealth mobility," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 703, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    4. Mathias Sommer, 2008. "Understanding the trends in income, consumption and wealth inequality and how important are life-cycle effects?," MEA discussion paper series 08160, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

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