Majed Dodin, Sebastian Findeisen, Lukas Henkel, Dominik Sachs, Paul Schüle, 24 December 2021

According to the OECD, social mobility in Germany is lower than in most other developed economies, reigniting a debate on equality of opportunity and shortcomings of the education system. This column discusses how census data can be used to obtain high quality mobility statistics for Germany. Using the Abitur educational qualification as a measure of opportunity, it suggests that relative mobility has remained constant for recent birth cohorts but points to substantial geographic variation in mobility measures across regions in the country.

Sebastian Findeisen, Paul Schüle, 10 December 2021

New research uses German census data to track the association between success for a child and the earnings of the parent at a much higher level of detail than was previously possible. Sebastian Findeisen and Paul Schüle tell Tim Phillips about the impact of investment in education, intended to improve social mobility.

Read more about the research behind this and download the free discussion paper:

Dodin, M, Findeisen, S, Henkel, L, Sachs, D and Schuele, P. 2021. 'Social Mobility in Germany'. CEPR

Soeren J. Henn, James Robinson, 26 April 2021

Social science research has painted a dismal picture of Africa’s potential for sustained economic growth. But growth, such as that which happened in China after 1978, can be surprising and can tap into ‘latent assets’ in a society that might have not been previously evident. This column identifies three latent assets in Africa which the authors argue are highly propitious for its long run trajectory.


We invite you to submit a paper to the CEPR/AMSE/Bank of France conference on social mobility. The conference will take place on December 2-3, 2021, at Aix Marseille School of Economics, Aix-en-Provence, France. The conference may take place fully on-site or may be virtual or hybrid, depending on sanitary conditions.

The aim of the workshop is to examine recent patterns of social mobility, as well as their causes and consequences. We welcome both theoretical and empirical papers on these issues. Topics of interest include (but not exclusively): 

-    social mobility and income and wealth inequality, 
-    taxation and mobility, 
-    the role of mobility in wage setting, 
-    social mobility and geography, 
-    inter- versus intra-generational mobility
-    social mobility and the COVID 19 crisis

The keynote speakers will be:
-    David S. Johnson (University of Michigan) 
-    Uta Schönberg (University College London)

How to Apply:
Please submit your paper or indicate your interest in participating by registering at this link, by no later than 31 July 2021. The committee will accept only complete drafts or extended outlines. The committee will inform about acceptances for presentation by 30th September 2021. 

If you do not currently have a CEPR profile, please create a new profile here and then click on the registration link above.

If you have any difficulties registering for this meeting, please contact Lydia Williams in the CEPR Events team, at [email protected] with the subject line “CEPR/AMSE/Banque de France on Social Mobility"

Travel and accommodation expenses of academic presenters will be covered by the organizers, subject to a cap. 

Scientific Committee: 
C. Berson (Banque de France), C. García-Peñalosa (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), E. Gautier (Banque de France), B. Garbinti (CREST), E. Moreno-Galbis (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), F. Savignac (Banque de France), A. Sotura (Banque de France) and A. Trannoy (Aix-Marseille School of Economics).        

Leah Boustan, 02 March 2020

Are the children of immgrants to the US who are being raised below the middle class able to move up?

Gianmarco Ottaviano, 03 July 2019

Economic geography strikes back. After a couple of decades of easy talk about the ‘death of distance’ in the age of globalisation, the promise of a world of rising living standards for all is increasingly challenged by the resilience of regional disparities within countries. As long as many people and firms are not geographically mobile – and those who are tend to be the most skilled and productive – easier distant interactions can actually strengthen rather than weaken agglomeration economies. Recent electoral trends in Europe can be understood to a surprisingly large extent from this angle. 

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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