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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 5 (August 2013)

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Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Great Britain and the United States since 1850: Comment

Article Citation

Xie, Yu, and Alexandra Killewald. 2013. "Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in Great Britain and the United States since 1850: Comment." American Economic Review, 103(5): 2003-20.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.5.2003

Abstract

Using historical census and survey data, Long and Ferrie (2013) found a significant decline in social mobility in the United States from 1880 to 1973. We present two critiques of the Long-Ferrie study. First, the data quality of the Long-Ferrie study is more limiting than the authors acknowledge. Second, and more critically, they applied a method ill-suited for measuring social mobility of farmers in a comparative study between 1880 and 1973, a period in which the proportion of farmers dramatically declined in the United States. We show that Long and Ferrie's main conclusion is all driven by this misleading result for farmers.

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Authors

Xie, Yu (Institute for Social Research, U MI)
Killewald, Alexandra (Harvard U)

JEL Classifications

J62: Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
N31: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N32: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: U.S.; Canada: 1913-
N51: Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N52: Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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