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A multi-country study of inter-generational educational mobility

  • Arnaud Chevalier
  • Kevin Denny
  • Dorren McMahon

This paper analyses intergenerational educational mobility using survey data for twenty countries. We find that a number of interesting patterns emerge. Estimating a measure of mobility as movement and an index of mobility as equality of opportunity we find that while these two measures are positively correlated, the correlation is far from perfect. Examining the link with educational inequality we find evidence which suggests an inverse relationship between mobility and inequality consistent with egalitarian theory. The relationship between mobility appears to be weak, high returns to education do not depress mobility, as some human capital theories would suggest. Mobility appears to be somewhat higher for men whereas equality is much the same for both sexes. There is evidence that mobility as equality of opportunity has risen consistent with modernization theory. There is no evidence that expansion of third level education has led to a fall in the penalty associated with having a low educated parent. Estimates of marginal mobility are quite different from average mobility.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/936
File Function: First version, 2003
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by School of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200314.

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Date of creation: May 2003
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Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200314
Contact details of provider: Postal: UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4
Phone: +353-1-7067777
Fax: +353-1-283 0068
Web page: http://www.ucd.ie/economics

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  1. Quah, Danny, 1993. "Galton's Fallacy and Tests of the Convergence Hypothesis," CEPR Discussion Papers 820, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Trostel, P. & Walker, I., 2000. "Education and Work," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 554, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gibbons, Steve & Machin, Stephen, 2003. "Valuing English primary schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 197-219, March.
  5. Casey B. Mulligan, 1999. "Galton versus the Human Capital Approach to Inheritance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S184-S224, December.
  6. Denny, Kevin & Harmon, Colm & Lydon, Raemonn, 2002. "Cross Country Evidence on the Returns to Education: Patterns and Explanations," CEPR Discussion Papers 3199, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Alan Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 1998. "Education for Growth in Sweden and the World," Working Papers 790, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Kevin Denny & Colm Harmon, 2001. "Testing for sheepskin effects in earnings equations: evidence for five countries," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(9), pages 635-637.
  9. Thomas, Vinod & Wang, Yan & Fan, Xibo, 2001. "Measuring education inequality - Gini coefficients of education," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2525, The World Bank.
  10. Friedman, Milton, 1992. "Do Old Fallacies Ever Die?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 2129-32, December.
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