Intergenerational Mobility in the Early 20th Century U.S.: Evidence from a New Linked Dataset

Awarded Scholars:
Martha J. Bailey, University of Michigan
Project Date:
Aug 2020
Award Amount:

This study aims to quantify intergenerational mobility in the early 20th century U.S. by creating a new data resource that can characterize intergenerational income and education mobility in all U.S. states. The study's authors will work to generate large enough samples to allow for correlation between early 20th century policies, area characteristics, and mobility for the early 20th century, similar to Raj Chetty et al.’s Opportunity Atlas for the modern period. The new dataset will aim to provide a more complete understanding of intergenerational mobility by gender, race, and ethnicity. The research project will employ state-of-the-art machine learning methods to link over 40 million Social Security Administration records to 1900-1940 U.S. Census records. The project will culminate in a dataset and a paper that incorporates a more robust characterization of economic mobility in the early 20th century than has been previously possible.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.