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.

Philippe Aghion, 27 March 2018

Many economists argue that fixing inequality should not come at the expense of innovation. Philippe Aghion discusses the role innovation has to play in fostering growth and social mobility. This video was recorded at the RES annual conference in Spring 2015.

Adrian Adermon, Mikael Lindahl, Daniel Waldenström, 27 November 2016

Recent studies on intergenerational income mobility have looked beyond the two-generational model to the role of grandparents, but multigenerational patterns in the wealth distribution have received less attention. This column uses a Swedish four-generational wealth dataset to study the role of family background for people’s wealth status and how much of this that is due to material inheritance. Most of the transmission in wealth status between generations comes from parents in the form of bequests and gifts, with only a marginal contribution from grandparents. 

Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel, Adriana Kugler, 17 October 2016

Upward social mobility is widely sought but often elusive in highly mobile societies like the US. While previous work has focused on intergenerational transmission of income levels and social prosperity among natives and immigrants, this column studies the intergenerational transmission of health. There is substantial persistence in health status for both natives and immigrants. However, as immigrant families remain in the US for more generations, their children’s health tends to resemble more the health of native children and less the health of their mothers.

Andrea Garnero, Alexander Hijzen, Sébastien Martin, 21 March 2016

Some economists argue that income inequality suggests intra-generational mobility in society. This column provides comprehensive evidence across a large number of advanced economies on the importance of intra-generational mobility and its relationship with earnings inequality. The findings do not support the belief that higher earnings inequality necessarily goes hand-in-hand with greater mobility over the working life. Higher inequalities are not systematically compensated by higher mobility opportunities.

Claudia Olivetti, Daniele Paserman, 12 November 2015

Intergenerational income mobility is currently not very high in the US compared to other developed countries. This column shows that US intergenerational income equality was high in the 19th century but plummeted between 1900 and 1920. The income-mobility ladder was thus pulled up during the so-called Great Gatsby era.

Philippe Aghion, Ufuk Akcigit, Antonin Bergeaud, Richard Blundell, David Hemous, 28 July 2015

In recent decades, there has been an accelerated increase in top income inequality, particularly in developed countries. This column argues that innovation partly accounts for the surge in top income inequality and fosters social mobility. In particular, the positive effect of innovation on social mobility is due to new innovators.

Melissa Kearney, Phillip Levine, 28 May 2015

Compared with other developed countries, the US ranks high on income inequality and low on social mobility. This could be particularly concerning if such a trend is self-perpetuating. In this column, the authors argue that there is a causal relationship between income inequality and high school dropout rates among disadvantaged youth. In particular, moving from a low-inequality to a high-inequality state increases the likelihood that a male student from a low socioeconomic status drops out of high school by 4.1 percentage points. The lack of opportunity for disadvantaged students, therefore, may be self-perpetuating.

Gregory Clark, 04 April 2014

Gregory Clark talks to Viv Davies about his new book titled "The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility". Using surname data from eight countries, the study concludes that fate and social status is determined by ancestry and that social mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, they do not vary across societies and are resistant to social policies. Effectively, capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. The interview was recorded in London in March 2014.

Natalie Chen, Paola Conconi, Carlo Perroni, 10 October 2011

Victorian novelist Horatio Alger insisted that hard work and a bit of luck could whisk a boy from rags to riches. CEPR DP8605 outlines a model to measure how social mobility impacts men and women differently. The authors suggest that, paradoxically, women's historically higher social mobility may be due to labour market discrimination--and that reducing the gender wage gap may reduce social mobility overall.

Philippe Belley, Marc Frenette, Lance Lochner, 24 September 2011

As scores of young men and women wave goodbye to their parents and prepare to start their university educations, this column asks whether providing more financial aid would increase the number of students enrolling from the poorest backgrounds. It looks at data from the US and Canada to see if the differences in funding for disadvantaged students can explain some of the differences in educational and social outcomes between the two countries.

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