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Journal Issue: Opportunity in America Volume 16 Number 2 Fall 2006

Intergenerational Social Mobility: The United States in Comparative Perspective
Emily Beller Michael Hout

Endnotes

  1. We will cite many specific studies in the course of this review. For overviews, consider the reviews by Gary Solon, “Cross Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 16, no. 3 (2002): 59–66; and Michael Hout, “How Inequality May Affect Intergenerational Mobility,” in Social Inequality, edited by Kathryn M. Neckerman (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2004), pp. 969–87.
  2. David L. Featherman and Robert M. Hauser, Opportunity and Change (New York: Academic Press, 1978); David J. Harding and others, “The Changing Effects of Family Background on the Incomes of American Adults,” in Unequal Chances: Family Background and Economic Success, edited by Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, and Melissa Osborne Groves (New York: Russell Sage Foundation and Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. 100–44; Michael Hout, “More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility,” American Journal of Sociology 93, no. 6 (1988): 1358–400.
  3. The term social mobility can also refer to intragenerational mobility—the changes in a person's income level or occupational status during his or her adult life course—but our focus is intergenerational.
  4. Hout, “How Inequality May Affect Intergenerational Mobility” (see note 1).
  5. Robert M. Hauser, “Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States: Measures, Differentials, and Trends,” Working Paper 98–12 (University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Demography and Ecology, 1998); Daniel P. McMurrer and Isabel Sawhill, Getting Ahead: Economic and Social Mobility in America (Washington: Urban Institute Press, 1998), p. 49.
  6. Otis D. Duncan. “A Socioeconomic Index for All Occupations,” in Occupations and Social Status, edited by Albert J. Reiss (New York: Free Press, 1961), pp. 109–38.
  7. General Social Surveys, 1972–2004 (cumulative file).
  8. We substituted mothers' occupations if the father was not part of the household.
  9. Robert M. Hauser and John Robert Warren, “Socioeconomic Indexes for Occupations: A Review, Update, and Critique,” Sociological Methodology 27 (1997): 177–298.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Peter M. Blau and Otis Dudley Duncan, The American Occupational Structure (New York: Wiley, 1967); Thomas A. DiPrete and David B. Grusky, “Structure and Trend in the Process of Stratification for American Men and Women,” American Journal of Sociology 1 (1990): 107–43.
  12. The regression coefficient is also 0.32.
  13. For example, since cognitive abilities are inherited to some degree (through genetics and environment), perfect mobility would imply no link between ability and outcome. See Harding and others, “The Changing Effects of Family Background” (see note 2); John E. Roemer, “Equal Opportunity and Intergenerational Mobility: Going Beyond Intergenerational Income Transition Matrices,” in Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, edited by Miles Corak (Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 48–57.
  14. John Robert Warren and Robert M. Hauser, “Social Stratification across Three Generations: Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study,” American Sociological Review 62, no. 4 (1997): 561–72.
  15. Most of the recent estimates pinpoint the father-son earnings elasticity between 0.35 and 0.5; see Gary Solon, “Intergenerational Mobility in the Labor Market,” in Handbook of Labor Economics, vol. 3A, edited by Orley Ashenfelter and David Card (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1999), pp. 1761–800; Gary Solon, “Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States,” American Economic Review 82, no. 3 (1992): 393–408; David J. Zimmerman, “Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature,” American Economic Review 82, no. 3 (1992): 409–29. These estimates exclude non-full-time workers. Estimates of persistence that include all sons with incomes are lower; see Joseph G. Altonji and Thomas A. Dunn, “Relationships between the Family Incomes and Labor Market Outcomes of Relatives,” in Research in Labor Economics, edited by Ronald G. Ehrenberg (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1991): 269–310; Nathan D. Grawe, “Intergenerational Mobility for Whom? The Experience of High and Low Earning Sons in International Perspective,” in Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, edited by Corak, pp. 58–89 (see note 13); H. Elizabeth Peters, “Patterns of Intergenerational Mobility in Income and Earnings,” Review of Economics and Statistics 74, no. 3 (1992): 456–66.
  16. Laura Chadwick and Gary Solon, “Intergenerational Income Mobility among Daughters,” American Economic Review 92, no. 1 (2002): 335–44; Bhaskhar Mazumder, “The Apple Falls Even Closer to the Tree than We Thought: New and Revised Estimates of the Intergenerational Inheritance of Earnings,” in Unequal Chances, edited by Bowles, Gintis, and Groves, pp. 80–99 (see note 2); Peters, “Patterns of Intergenerational Mobility in Income and Earnings” (see note 15).
  17. Chadwick and Solon, “Intergenerational Income Mobility among Daughters” (see note 16).
  18. Gary Becker and Nigel Tomes, “Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families,” Journal of Labor Economics 4, no 3, pt. 2: “The Family and the Distribution of Economic Rewards” (1986): S1–39.
  19. Gary Solon, “Biases in the Estimation of Intergenerational Earnings Correlations,” Review of Economics and Statistics 71, no. 1 (1989): 172–74; Solon, “Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States,” (see note 15); Zimmerman, “Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature” (see note 15).
  20. Steven Haider and Gary Solon, “Life Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings,” Working Paper 11943 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006).
  21. Mazumder, “The Apple Falls Even Closer to the Tree” (see note 16).
  22. For example, lower overall mobility on the low end of the income distribution may be due to factors such as the lower ability of poor parents to invest in children's education, the debilitating effects of living in poor neighborhoods, or the employment effects of high rates of incarceration.
  23. Grawe, “Intergenerational Mobility for Whom?” (see note 15); Markus Jantti and others, “American Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States,” Discussion Paper 1938 (Bonn, Germany: IZA [Institute for the Study of Labor], 2006); Mazumder, “The Apple Falls Even Closer to the Tree” (see note 16).
  24. Kenneth A. Couch and Dean R. Lillard, “Non-Linear Patterns of Intergenerational Mobility in Germany and the United States,” in Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, edited by Corak, pp. 190–206 (see note 13).
  25. Eric R. Eide and Mark H. Showalter, “Factors Affecting the Transmission of Earnings across Generations: A Quantile Regression Approach,” Journal of Human Resources 34, no. 2 (1999): 253–67; Grawe, “Inter generational Mobility for Whom?” (see note 15). There is some conflicting evidence on this issue when a different data source is used, but this may be due to a problem with some of the data collection.
  26. Casey B. Mulligan, “Galton versus the Human Capital Approach to Inheritance,” Journal of Political Economy 107, no. 6, pt. 2: “Symposium on the Economic Analysis of Social Behavior in Honor of Gary S. Becker” (1999): S184–224.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Thomas M. Shapiro, The Hidden Cost of Being African American (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 60–85.
  29. Lester C. Thurow, Generating Inequality: The Distributional Mechanisms of the Economy (Springfield, Va.: National Technical Information Service, 1975).
  30. Dalton Conley, Being Black, Living in the Red: Race, Wealth, and Social Policy in America (University of California Press, 1999); Lisa A. Keister, Getting Rich: America's New Rich and How They Got That Way (Cambridge University Press, 2005); Melvin Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, Black Wealth/White Wealth: A New Perspective on Racial Inequality (New York: Routledge, 1995).
  31. Featherman and Hauser, Opportunity and Change (see note 2).
  32. DiPrete and Grusky, “Structure and Trend in the Process of Stratification” (see note 11); Hout, “More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility” (see note 2).
  33. There is limited information on trends before this time, and firm conclusions on occupational mobility after the mid-1980s are hard to come by because of data limitations. Timothy J. Biblarz, Vern L. Bengston, and Alexander Bucur, “Social Mobility across Three Generations,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58, no. 1 (1996): 188–200; DiPrete and Grusky, “Structure and Trend in the Process of Stratification” (see note 11); Michal Hout, “Status, Autonomy and Training in Occupational Mobility,” American Journal of Sociology 89, no. 6 (1984): 1379–409; Hout, “More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility” (see note 2).
  34. Claude S. Fischer and others, Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve Myth (Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 152–55; Hout, “Status, Autonomy and Training in Occupational Mobility” (see note 33).
  35. DiPrete and Grusky, “Structure and Trend in the Process of Stratification” (see note 11).
  36. Emily Beller and Michael Hout, “Income Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility: Change across Cohorts,” unpublished Working Paper (University of California, Berkeley, 2005). The extension of the measurement of occupational class background to include mothers' as well as fathers' occupation will also change the estimated trends in mobility rates over time, because the impact of including mothers' occupation varies depending on the period (since, for example, mothers' labor force participation and parents' marital sorting by class also varies by period).
  37. Michael E. Sobel, Michael Hout, and Otis D. Duncan, “Exchange, Structure and Symmetry in Occupational Mobility,” American Journal of Sociology 91, no. 2 (1985): 359–72.
  38. David I. Levine and Bhashkar Mazumder, “Choosing the Right Parents: Changes in the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality between 1980 and the Early 1990s,” Working Paper WP-02-08 (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 2002); Susan E. Mayer and Leonard M. Lopoo, “What Do Trends in the Intergenerational Economic Mobility of Sons and Daughters in the United States Mean?” in Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, edited by Corak, pp. 90–121 (see note 13).
  39. Jo Blandon, Paul Gregg, and Stephen Machin, “Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America,” A Report Supported by the Sutton Trust (London: LSE Centre for Economic Performance, 2005); Chul-In Lee and Gary Solon, “Trends in Intergenerational Income Mobility,” Working Paper 12007 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2006).
  40. Harding and others, “The Changing Effects of Family Background” (see note 2).
  41. Daniel Aaronson and Bhashkar Mazumder, “Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States: 1940–2000,” Working Paper 05-12 (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 2005).
  42. Emily Beller and Michael Hout, “Welfare States and Social Mobility,” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (forthcoming).
  43. Richard Breen and Jan O. Jonsson, “Inequality of Opportunity in Comparative Perspective: Recent Research on Educational Attainment and Social Mobility,” Annual Review of Sociology 31 (2005): 223–43; Richard Breen, ed., Social Mobility in Europe (Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 37–76.
  44. Beller and Hout, “Welfare States and Social Mobility” (see note 42); Richard Breen and Ruud Luijkx, “Conclusions,” in Social Mobility in Europe, edited by Breen, pp. 383–410; Michael Hout, “Maximally Maintained Inequality Revisited: Irish Educational Mobility in Comparative Perspective,” in Changing Ireland, 1989–2003, edited by Maire Nic Ghiolla Phadraig and Betty Hilliard (University College Dublin Press, forthcoming).
  45. Anders Bjorklund and Markus Jantti, “Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared with the United States,” American Economic Review 87, no. 5 (1997): 1009–18; Blandon, Gregg, and Machine, “Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America”(see note 39); Miles Corak, “Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe: An Introduction,” in Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, edited by Corak, pp. 1–37 (see note 13); Jantti and others, “American Exceptionalism in a New Light” (see note 23); Solon, “Cross Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility” (see note 1).
  46. Jantti and others, “American Exceptionalism in a New Light” (see note 23).
  47. Casey B. Mulligan and Song Han, “Human Capital, Heterogeneity, and Estimated Degrees of Intergenerational Mobility,” Working Paper W7678 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2000); Solon, “Cross Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility” (see note 1).
  48. Raquel Fernandez and Richard Rogerson, “Sorting and Long-Run Inequality,” Working Paper W7508 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2000).
  49. Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Harvard University Press, 1994).
  50. Timothy J. Biblarz and Adrian E. Raftery, “Family Structure, Educational Attainment, and Socioeconomic Success: Rethinking the Pathology of Matriarchy,” American Journal of Sociology 105, no. 3 (1999): 321–65; Beverly Duncan and Otis Dudley Duncan, “Family Stability and Occupational Success,” Social Problems 16, no. 3 (1969): 273–85; Sara McLanahan and Larry Bumpass, “Intergenerational Consequences of Family Disruption,” American Journal of Sociology 94, no. 1 (1988): 130–52; Kelly Musick and Robert D. Mare, “Family Structure, Intergenerational Mobility, and the Reproduction of Poverty: Evidence for Increasing Polarization?” Demography 41, no. 4 (2004): 629–48.
  51. Susan E. Mayer, What Money Can't Buy: Family Income and Children's Life Chances (Harvard University Press, 1997).
  52. DiPrete and Grusky, “Structure and Trend in the Process of Stratification” (see note 11); Hout, “More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility” (see note 2).
  53. James S. Coleman, “Social Capital in the Creation of Human Capital,” American Journal of Sociology 94, supplement (1988): S95–120.
  54. Blau and Duncan, The American Occupational Structure, chap. 5 (see note 11); Hout, “More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility” (see note 2).