In the Name of the Son (and the Daughter): Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930

52 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2013

See all articles by Claudia Olivetti

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Daniele Paserman

Boston University - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2013

Abstract

This paper provides a new perspective on intergenerational mobility in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We devise an empirical strategy that allows to calculate intergenerational elasticities between fathers and children of both sexes. The key insight of our approach is that the information about socio-economic status conveyed by first names can be used to create a pseudo-link not only between fathers and sons, but also between fathers and daughters. The latter is typically not possible with historical data.We find that the father-son elasticity in economic status grows throughout the sample period. Intergenerational elasticities for daughters follow a broadly similar trend, but with some differences in timing. We argue that most of the increase in the intergenerational elasticity estimate in the early part of the 20th Century can be accounted for by the vast regional disparities in economic development, with increasing returns to human capital contributing to explain the residual. Other mechanisms such as changes in fertility, migration, and investment in public schooling, appear to have had only a minor role in explaining the trends.

Suggested Citation

Olivetti, Claudia and Paserman, Daniele, In the Name of the Son (and the Daughter): Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930 (February 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w18822. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2222509

Claudia Olivetti (Contact Author)

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Daniele Paserman

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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