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Intergenerational Mobility in Education: Variation in Geography and Time

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Publication Date:
Dec 2019

Education mobility contributes to income mobility and is an important policy target but has received little attention. This paper documents trends (1982–2004) and geographical differences (across US states) in education mobility. The authors develop mobility measures that respect the unique properties of education attainment. While standard approaches suggest slightly increasing mobility over the sample period, they find that mobility fluctuated, decreasing over roughly the first decade and increasing in the second. Geographic variation in education mobility is correlated with local community and policy factors—such as the existence of high school exit exams. The South is excluded from national increases in mobility.

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