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Reading List: Inequality and Economic Mobility

Rohan Mascarenhas, Russell Sage Foundation
February 1, 2012

Earlier this month, economist (and former RSF trustee) Alan Krueger sparked an extended debate online after discussing the relationship between inequality and economic mobility in a speech at the Center for American Progress.

The Russell Sage Foundation has sponsored a number of studies on social mobility and will publish an edited volume this spring that compares whether and how parents' resources transmit advantage to their children at different stages of development and sheds light on the structural differences among countries that may influence intergenerational mobility.

Until then, those interested in the subject can browse through the journal articles and working papers collected below. This list is by no means exhaustive; suggestions for more citations can be sent here. Where possible, a link to a PDF copy has been included. While many of the papers below are of a technical bent, readers can find an excellent general introduction to the literature here.

Andrews, Dan, and Andrew Leigh. 2009. "More Inequality, Less Social Mobility." Applied Economics Letters 16(15): 1489-92. (PDF)

Becker, Gary S., and Nigel Tomes. 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility." Journal of Political Economy 87(6): 1153-89. (PDF)

Beller, Emily, and Michael Hout. 2006. "Intergenerational Social Mobility: The United States in Comparative Perspective." The Future of Children 16(2):19-36. (PDF)

Bjorklund, Anders, and Markus Jantti. 2009. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Role of Family Background." In Oxford Handbook of Inequality, edited by Wiemer Salverda, Brian Nolan, and Timothy Smeeding. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Blanden, Jo. 2009. "How Much Can We Learn from International Comparisons of Intergenerational Mobility?" Working paper 111. London: London School of Economics, Center for the Economics of Education. (PDF)

Corak, Miles, ed. 2004. Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Corak, Miles. 2006. "Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults? Lessons from a Cross Country Comparison of Generational Earnings Mobility." Discussion paper 1993. Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). (PDF)

------------. 2012. "Inequality from Generation to Generation: The United States in Comparison," in The Economics of Inequality, Poverty, and Discrimination in the 21st Century, edited by Robert Rycroft. ABC-CLIO, forthcoming. (PDF) 

Ferrie, Joseph P. 2005. "History Lessons: The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the United States Since 1850." Journal of Economic Perspectives 19(3):199-215. (PDF)

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

Hout, Michael. 2004. "How Inequality May Affect Intergenerational Mobility," in Social Inequality, edited by Kathryn M. Neckerman. New York: Russell Sage Foundation: 2004. 

Jantti, Markus, Bernt Bratsberg, Knut Roed, Oddbjorn Raaum, Robin Naylor, Eva Osterbacka, Anders Bjorklund, and Tor Eriksson. 2006. "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: Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). (PDF)

Lee, Chul-In, and Gary Solon. 2009. "Trends in Intergenerational Income Mobility." Review of Economics and Statistics 91 (November): 766-72. 

Mazumder, Bhash. 2012. "Is Intergenerational Economic Mobility Lower Now Than in the Past?" Chicago Fed Letter No. 297. (PDF)

Sawhill, Isabel, and Sara McLanahan. 2006. "Opportunity in America: Introducing the Issue." The Future of Children 16(2):3-17. (PDF)

Solon, Gary. 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States." American Economic Review 82(3): 393-408. (PDF)

------------. 1999. "Intergenerational Mobility in the Labor Market." In Handbook of Labor Economics, vol. 3A, edited by Orley Ashenfelter and David Card. Amsterdam: North-Holland. 

------------. 2002. "Cross Country Differences in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility." Journal of Economic Perspectives 16, no. 3 (2002): 59-66. (PDF)

------------. 2004. "A Model of Intergenerational Mobility Variation over Time and Place." In Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe, edited by Miles Corak. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (PDF)