Poverty and income inequality

Maia Güell, Michele Pellizzari, Giovanni Pica, Sevi Rodriguez Mora, 26 November 2018

Measuring intergenerational mobility and understanding its drivers is key to removing the obstacles to equal opportunities and assuring a level playing field in access to jobs and education. This column uses the informational content of Italian surnames to show that social mobility varies greatly across regions in the country, and that it correlates positively with economic activity, education and social capital, and negatively with inequality. The findings suggest that policies and political institutions are unlikely to be the main drivers of geographical differences in social mobility.

Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Nathaniel Hendren, Maggie R. Jones, Sonya R. Porter, 06 November 2018

Economic mobility varies dramatically across the US. This column introduces a new interactive mapping tool that traces the roots of outcomes such as poverty and incarceration back to the neighbourhoods in which children grew up. Among the insights the data reveal are that children who grow up a few miles apart in families with comparable incomes have very different life outcomes, and that moving in early childhood to a neighbourhood with better outcomes can increase a child’s income by several thousands of dollars later in life.

Christian Dustmann, Bernd Fitzenberger, Markus Zimmermann, 22 October 2018

There is a lot of concern about the rise in housing costs in many developed countries and the impact it has on living conditions and inequality. Yet, to date little evidence exists on how changes in housing costs affect the distribution of disposable income. This column draws on recent research for Germany to show that shifts in housing costs severely exacerbated the rise in income inequality net of housing expenditures, and discusses the reasons behind this and implications for inequality.

Martin Nybom, Kelly Vosters, 15 October 2018

In 2014, Gregory Clark proposed a ‘simple law of mobility’ suggesting that intergenerational mobility is much lower than previously believed, and relatively uniform across countries. This column tests this law using US and Swedish data. The results show, in contrast to the simple law of mobility, no evidence of a rise in intergenerational persistence and no evidence of uniformity across countries.

David Card, Ciprian Domnisoru, Lowell Taylor, 06 October 2018

There is wide variation in upward mobility across US states. This column uses a study of child schooling in 1940 to show that upward mobility in educational attainment is determined in part by local public education policy, with mobility greater in states with high teacher salaries, for example. This shows the potential of public education to improve equality of opportunity. 

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