Social Mobility: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

58 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2013

See all articles by Sebastian Galiani

Sebastian Galiani

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 2008


Although the precise definition of social mobility is a matter of debate, it is associated to a situation in which the relative economic status of an agent is not dependent on starting conditions such as parental income or family background. Analyzing the determinants of mobility involves exploring the channels through which offspring’s income is correlated to its parents’, such as education, opportunities or economic status. This survey explores in an analytical framework, the relation between social mobility and inequality, among other important dimensions of income distribution that are jointly determined. The focus is on the relevance of social mobility as it affects variables determining welfare and economic efficiency, and therefore on policies to promote it.

Keywords: Social Mobility

JEL Classification: D63

Suggested Citation

Galiani, Sebastian, Social Mobility: What is it and Why Does it Matter? (February 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Sebastian Galiani (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

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