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The rise of meritocracy and the inheritance of advantage

Author

Listed:
  • David Comerford

    () (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)

  • Jose V Rodriguez Mora

    () (University of Edinburgh, School of Economics)

  • Michael J Watts

    () (University of Edinburgh, School of Economics)

Abstract

We present a model where more accurate information on the background of individuals facilitates statistical discrimination, increasing inequality and intergenerational persistence in income. Surprisingly, more accurate information on the actual capabilities of workers leads to the same result - firms give increased weight to the more accurate information, increasing inequality and fostering discrimination. The rich take advantage of this through educational investments in their children, lowering mobility. Using our model to interpret the data suggests that a country like the US might be a land of opportunity for the sufficiently able but where (for endogenous reasons) ability is strongly correlated with background.

Suggested Citation

  • David Comerford & Jose V Rodriguez Mora & Michael J Watts, 2017. "The rise of meritocracy and the inheritance of advantage," Working Papers 1716, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:1716
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hendricks, Lutz & Herrington, Christopher & Schoellman, Todd, 2018. "College Access and Attendance Patterns: A Long-Run View," Working Papers 10, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute.
    2. Lutz Hendricks & Christopher Herrington & Todd Schoellman, 2016. "The Changing Roles of Family Income and Academic Ability for US College Attendance," Working Papers 1602, VCU School of Business, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2017.
    3. Chris Bidner & John Knowles, 2018. "Matching for Social Mobility with Unobserved Heritable Characteristics," Discussion Papers dp18-05, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intergenerational mobility; inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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