A hallmark of the American Dream is the potential for improving one’s lot in life regardless of background or social origin. For this reason, many social scientists have analyzed social and economic mobility. Until recently, this work has been constrained by the use of relatively small survey data sets, sometimes with significant attrition. Recent analyses of large administrative data sources from the Internal Revenue Service, in contrast, do not have respondent attrition problems and contain very large sample sizes that provide more precise estimates of mobility. However, the longitudinal IRS data are available only for recent years, with data on children’s earnings limited to early adulthood, and without information on demographic attributes, such as parental or respondent education, or race and ethnicity.
Professor John Haltiwanger and his colleagues are developing new federal data for the study of intergenerational economic mobility. Among other factors, the investigators will examine how intergenerational mobility differs across geographic locations for individuals of different races and ethnicities.