Opportunity for Whom? Sources of Integenerational Mobility in the U.S.

2019-06-10T17:23:27Z (GMT) by Timothy M Smith
Economists generally consider intergenerational economic mobility to be an important feature of market economies, as it allows people born into poverty to achieve a measure of prosperity in the presence of minimal government intervention or redistribution. The empirical literature on mobility in the U.S. has, however, found evidence that mobility is lower than previously thought, and scholars have responded by developing expansive literatures on many aspects of intergenerational mobility, including studies of its origins. In this dissertation, I contribute to this strand of the literature by reviewing recent trends in the literature, with a particular emphasis on studies aimed at explaining the sources of mobility, and then discussing three empirical studies into specific sources of mobility, using data organized at different geographic and temporal scales. These empirical chapters focus on the role of different aspects of childhood poverty in determining income rank in adulthood, modeling variation in racial mobility gaps across different kinds of communities and local economies, and measuring the relationship between trends in intergenerational mobility and the structural transformation of agriculture in the 20th century U.S..