Economics of Mobility
Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 3:45 PM - 5:45 PM (EST)
- Chair: Oren Danieli, Tel Aviv University
Intergenerational Mobility Over the 20th Century: Evidence From United States Survey Data
AbstractMuch recent work has focused on understanding geographic variation in intergenerational mobility for modern U.S. cohorts, but it is difficult to extrapolate from cross-sectional variation in intergenerational mobility to the relevant cross-cohort variation. Yet, because of data constraints, little if any work has examined variation over time during the 20th century. We take on this task, collecting all survey datasets we can find that ask both own family income and father’s occupation, and use father’s occupation as a proxy for childhood income. We find that IGE is u-shaped over the 20th century, whereas rank-rank coefficients decline from the 1910-1940 cohorts and remain generally flat from the 1940-1970 cohorts. Mechanically, the decline in IGE and rank-rank is driven by the decreasing connection between father’s occupation and own education for those born between 1910 and 1940.
Was the Arsenal of Democracy an Engine of Mobility? The World War II Industrial Expansion and the Roots of Mid-Century Manufacturing Opportunity
AbstractThis paper examines the long-run effects of the publicly-financed construction of large manufacturing facilities during World War II (WWII) both on local labor markets and on individual-level earnings mobility during the Postwar period. We study the wartime construction of large, new plants in that the United States military could not incentivize private firms to stake any capital on, and likely would not have been built in the selected locations if not for the war. We test for market-level effects by comparing counties that received plants for idiosyncratic war-related reasons to counties that observably similar in 1930, and find that plant sitings caused manufacturing employment to rise by 30 percent and average production earnings to rise by 10 percent after the war and to remain elevated through the year 2000. These manufacturing-sector effects are associated with a general increase in median family incomes and, to a lesser extent, with higher wages in other sectors. If individuals are spatially mobile in the long-run, these county-level earnings effects may be driven by selective migration rather than within-individual earnings growth. We therefore test for individual-level effects by studying the long-term earnings effects on workers based on where they resided before the war as children. We find that growing up in a locale where a large plant was constructed had an economically significant impact on mens’ adult wage incomes, but not those of women. These plants also increased upwards intergenerational household income mobility for children born to parents with below-median family incomes in 1940. Our results suggest that wartime policies causally contributed to the midcentury rise in upward mobility.
Mobility and Inequality in US Growth, 1968–2018
AbstractThis paper combines cross-sectional and longitudinal labor income data to present a comparison between anonymous and non-anonymous growth incidence curves in the United States during the past 50 years. If anonymous growth incidence tend to be upward sloping because of increasing inequality during that period, the same is not true of non-anonymous curves. The latter prove to be flat or non-significantly downward sloping, suggesting some neutrality of growth when initial income positions are accounted for. This is true when using either panel data or synthetic panels based on CPS data and one-parameter functional representations of income mobility. Flat non-anonymous curves are observed even in periods of increasing cross-sectional income inequality. Differences between anonymous and non-anonymous curves thus matter for the interpretation of inequality changes, social welfare and policy.
University of British Columbia
Chicago Federal Statistical Research Data Center
Imperial College Business School
- J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers