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Intergenerational Mobility under Private vs. Public Education


  • James B. Davies

    (University of Western Ontario)

  • Jie Zhang

    (University of Queensland)

  • Jinli Zeng

    (National University of Singapore)


This paper analyzes intergenerational earnings mobility in a model where human capital is produced using schooling and parental time. In steady -states more mobile societies have less inequality, but in the short-run higher mobility may result from an increase in inequality. Starting from the same inequality, mobility is higher under public than under private education. A rise in income shocks, for example due to increased returns to ability, or a switch from public to private schooling both increase inequality. However, increased shocks raise mobility in the short-run and do not affect it in the long-run, whereas an increased role for private schooling reduces mobility in both the short- and long-run. That these differences may help to identify the source of changes in inequality, and other real-world implications, are illustrated in a brief discussion of time trends and cross-country differences.

Suggested Citation

  • James B. Davies & Jie Zhang & Jinli Zeng, 2003. "Intergenerational Mobility under Private vs. Public Education," Departmental Working Papers wp0313, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:nus:nusewp:wp0313

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Rasmus Landersø & James J. Heckman, 2017. "The Scandinavian Fantasy: The Sources of Intergenerational Mobility in Denmark and the US," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 119(1), pages 178-230, January.
    2. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    3. Ragui Assaad & Mohamed Saleh, 2013. "Does Improved Local Supply of Schooling Enhance Intergenerational Mobility in Education? Evidence from Jordan," Working Papers 788, Economic Research Forum, revised Oct 2013.
    4. Michele Bernasconi & Paola Profeta, 2007. "Redistribution or Education? The Political Economy of the Social Race," CESifo Working Paper Series 1934, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Arawatari, Ryo & Ono, Tetsuo, 2013. "Inequality, mobility and redistributive politics," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(1), pages 353-375.
    6. Andrea Ichino & Loukas Karabarbounis & Enrico Moretti, 2011. "The Political Economy Of Intergenerational Income Mobility," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(1), pages 47-69, January.
    7. Yuki Uchida, 2015. "Education, Social Mobility, and Talent Mismatch," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 15-21, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    8. Sajid Amin Javed & Mohammad Irfan, 2014. "Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from Pakistan Panel Household Survey," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 53(2), pages 175-203.
    9. Ryo Arawatari & Tetsuo Ono, 2015. "Inequality, Mobility and Redistributive Taxation in a Finance-Constrained Economy," Applied Economics and Finance, Redfame publishing, vol. 2(4), pages 143-159, November.
    10. Milanovic, Branko, 2007. "Where in the world are you? Assessing the importance of circumstance and effort in a world of different mean country incomes and (almost) no migration," MPRA Paper 3420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Guido Neidhöfer, 2016. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Rise and Fall of Inequality: Lessons from Latin America," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0196, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    12. Acar, Elif Öznur & Günalp, Burak & Cilasun, Seyit Mümin, 2016. "An empirical analysis of household education expenditures in Turkey," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 23-35.
    13. Anna Christina D'Addio, 2007. "Intergenerational Transmission of Disadvantage: Mobility or Immobility Across Generations?," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
    14. C. Fan & Jie Zhang, 2013. "Differential fertility and intergenerational mobility under private versus public education," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 907-941, July.
    15. repec:clp:wpaper:wp26 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Mobility; Inequality; Education regimes;

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General


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