Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 16 No. 3 (Summer 2002)


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Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations

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Grawe, Nathan D., and Casey B. Mulligan. 2002. "Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(3): 45-58.

DOI: 10.1257/089533002760278703


Since accurate prediction ultimately determines the usefulness of theory, our paper gives the reader a taste of some predictions derived from economic theory and some empirical successes and failures. We provide only a taste, because there are a great many economic models relevant to intergenerational correlations — such as models of educational attainment, neighborhood effects in schooling, family formation and fertility choice, occupational choice and discrimination — and quite a variety of predictions that might be derived from these models. However, a simple model of investment and intergenerational decision making can be interpreted as a conceptual aggregation of many more detailed economic models. We present such a model and from it derive one class of predictions that has received substantial attention in the empirical literature — the role of endowments and credit markets in determining intergenerational correlations.

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Grawe, Nathan D.
Mulligan, Casey B.


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