Social Mobility

  • Gary Solon
  • Raj Chetty
  • Florencia Torche

Leaders: Raj Chetty, Gary Solon, Florencia Torche

The purpose of the Social Mobility RG is to develop and exploit new administrative sources for measuring mobility and the effects of policy on mobility out of poverty. This research group is doing so by (a) providing comprehensive analyses of intergenerational mobility based on linked administrative data from U.S. tax returns, W-2s, and other sources, and (b) developing a new infrastructure for monitoring social mobility, dubbed the American Opportunity Study, that is based on linking census and other administrative data. Here’s a sampling of projects:

Small place estimates: The Equal Opportunity Project, led by Raj Chetty, uses tax return data to monitor opportunities for mobility out of poverty. In one of the new lines of analysis coming out of this project, the first round of results at the level of “commuting zones” are being redone at a more detailed level (e.g., census block level), thus allowing for even better inferences about the effects of place.

The American Opportunity Study: This research group is also collaborating with the Census Bureau to develop a new infrastructure for monitoring mobility that treats linked decennial census data as the spine on which other administrative data are hung.

Colleges and rising income inequality: Where do poor children go to attend college? The “Mobility Report Card” will convey the joint distribution of parent and student incomes for every Title IV institution in the United States.

The “absolute mobility” of the poor: What fraction of poor children grow up to earn more than their parents? Have rates of absolute upward mobility changed over time? This project develops a new method of estimating rates of absolute mobility for the 1940-1984 birth cohorts.

Intergenerational elasticities in the U.S.: There remains some debate about the size of intergenerational elasticities in the U.S. A rarely-used sample of 1987 tax data provides new evidence on U.S. elasticities.

Mobility - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, Emmanuel Saez

Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States

Author: Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, Emmanuel Saez
Publisher:
Date: 06/2014

The United States is often hailed as the “land of opportunity,” a society in which a child’s chances of success depend little on his family background. Is this reputation warranted? We show that this question does not have a clear answer because there is substantial variation in intergenerational mobility across areas within the U.S. The U.S. is better described as a collection of societies, some of which are “lands of opportunity” with high rates of mobility across generations, and others in which few children escape poverty.

We characterize intergenerational mobility using information from de-identified federal income tax records, which provide data on the incomes of more than 40 million children and their parents between 1996 and 2012.

Theoretical Models of Inequality Transmission across Multiple Generations Gary Solon

Theoretical Models of Inequality Transmission across Multiple Generations

Author: Gary Solon
Publisher: Research in Social Stratification and Mobility
Date: 03/2014

Existing theoretical models of intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status have strong implications for the association of outcomes across multiple generations of a family. These models, however, are highly stylized and do not encompass many plausible avenues for transmission across multiple generations. This paper extends existing models to encompass some of these avenues and draws out empirical implications for the multigenerational persistence of socioeconomic status.

Family, the Lifecourse, and the Great Recession S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, Christopher Wimer

Family, the Lifecourse, and the Great Recession

Author: S. Philip Morgan, Erin Cumberworth, Christopher Wimer
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The family is an important setting within which the Great Recession can exert its influence. Although the downturn directly affected many workers by reducing their earnings or forcing them into unemployment, it affected others indirectly by changing their living arrangements or family life. Further, the ways in which families are formed or broken up may be affected by the Great Recession, as it can alter the perceived costs and benefits of various family-relevant behaviors. Amid the turmoil and economic upheaval in the wider economy, individuals and families go about their lives, deciding to get married, suffering through breakups and divorces, planning families, and sorting out their living arrangements. The recession could have major effects on all of these family processes.

Income, Wealth and Debt and the Great Recession Timothy Smeeding

Income, Wealth and Debt and the Great Recession

Author: Timothy Smeeding
Publisher:
Date: 10/2012

The Great Depression is often cast as the beginning of the end for the late Gilded Age. Because it brought on the institutional reforms of the New Deal, it led to dramatic reductions in income inequality and set the stage for a long period of comparatively low inequality. The purpose of this recession brief is to ask whether the Great Recession, like the Great Depression, is likewise shaping up as a compressive event that will reverse some of the run-up in inequality of the so-called New Gilded Age. This question can be taken on by examining recent and long-term trends in wealth inequality, income inequality, median incomes, and debt.

How Class Works: Objective and Subjective Aspects of Class since the 1970s Michael Hout

How Class Works: Objective and Subjective Aspects of Class since the 1970s

Author: Michael Hout
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
Date: 07/2008

mobility - CPI Affiliates

John Goldthorpe's picture John Goldthorpe Emeritus Fellow, Sociology
Nuffield College
Jonathan Kelley's picture Jonathan Kelley Director at International Survey Center; Adjunct Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Reno
University of Nevada
Karl Ulrich Mayer's picture Karl Ulrich Mayer Stanley B. Resor Professor Emeritus of Sociology; Professor, Institution for Social and Policy Studies (ISPS); Director Emeritus, Max Planck Institute of Human Development
Yale University
Leo Goodman's picture Leo Goodman Professor of Sociology and Statistics; Member, National Academy of Sciences
University of California, Berkeley
Leslie McCall's picture Leslie McCall Presidential Professor of Sociology and Political Science; Associate Director, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality; LIS Senior Scholar
City University of New York

Pages

Mobility - Other Research

Title Author Media
The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home Hochschild, Arlie

The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home

Author: Hochschild, Arlie
Publisher: Viking
Date:
Race, Kin Networks, and Assistance to Mother-Headed Families Hogan, Dennis P., Ling-Xin Hao, and William L....

Race, Kin Networks, and Assistance to Mother-Headed Families

Author: Hogan, Dennis P., Ling-Xin Hao, and William L....
Publisher: Social Forces
Date:
Cohabitation and the Declining Marriage Premium for Men Philip N. Cohen

Cohabitation and the Declining Marriage Premium for Men

Author: Philip N. Cohen
Publisher: Work and Occupations
Date:
The Making of the New English Working Class E.P. Thompson

The Making of the New English Working Class

Author: E.P. Thompson
Publisher: Vintage Books
Date:
Alienation and Social Class Karl Marx

Alienation and Social Class

Author: Karl Marx
Publisher: Westview Press
Date:

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