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Technology and Intergenerational Persistence: Theory and Some Evidence

Author

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  • Brant Abbott

    (Yale University)

  • Giovanni Gallipoli

    (UBC)

Abstract

We develop and estimate an equilibrium model of intergenerational earnings persistence based on skill complementarity in production. We show that when a worker's productivity is relatively independent of co-workers' skills (i.e., skills are substitutable) parental investments in a child's human capital have a stronger impact on the child's future earnings. This leads to higher earnings' persistence across generations. Observed patterns of geographic variation in intergenerational income persistence, both across countries and within the US, appear to be consistent with this hypothesis. We show that differences in skill substitutability may account for up to 1/5 of cross-country variation in intergenerational earnings persistence. We also find that public policies which equalize skills are more desirable in places where skills are more complementary in production. Thus cross-country differences in production arrangements provide a rationale for the observed concurrence of proactive government policies and increased economic mobility. When accounting for this indirect effect, the model explains an even larger share of cross-country differences in mobility, up to 1/3 of the total. As a by-product of this analysis we provide the first set of estimates of skill substitutability in different industries.

Suggested Citation

  • Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2014. "Technology and Intergenerational Persistence: Theory and Some Evidence," 2014 Meeting Papers 860, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed014:860
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    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2014/paper_860.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Matilde Bombardini & Giovanni Gallipoli & German Pupato, 2012. "Skill Dispersion and Trade Flows," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2327-2348, August.
    2. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Giovanni L. Violante, 2013. "Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium," Working Paper series 15_13, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    3. Jantti, Markus & Bratsberg, Bernt & Roed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjorn & Naylor, Robin & Osterbacka, Eva & Bjorklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor, 2005. "American exceptionalism in a new light: a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States," Economic Research Papers 269752, University of Warwick - Department of Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. Enrico Moretti, 2004. "Workers' Education, Spillovers, and Productivity: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 656-690, June.
    6. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Patrick Kline & Emmanuel Saez, 2014. "Where is the land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1553-1623.
    7. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-1189, December.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Technology and Intergenerational Persistence: Theory and Some Evidence
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2015-02-10 21:54:26

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