From Subgroups to Bottlenecks: New Directions for the Empirical Study of Intergenerational Mobility — A Comment on Timothy Smeeding, 'Multiple Barriers to Economic Opportunity in the United States'

Russell Sage Foundation online materials, Forthcoming

7 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2015

Date Written: October 17, 2014

Abstract

This short response piece argues that the empirical study of intergenerational mobility is reaching a new stage. Instead of merely estimating overall, aggregate mobility, new work in the field focuses specifically on particular bottlenecks through which people must pass in order to reach better economic outcomes. This paper then raises some questions that this important new work inspires, about which type of mobility we ought to be concerned about -- mobility at the bottom, middle, or the top; what is driving the rising levels of parental financial investment in children at the top; and the limits of income as a measure of what we ought to care about if we care about mobility.

Keywords: Social mobility, economic mobility, intergenerational mobility, equal opportunity, social class, opportunity, bottlenecks

JEL Classification: I32, J10, O15

Suggested Citation

Fishkin, Joseph, From Subgroups to Bottlenecks: New Directions for the Empirical Study of Intergenerational Mobility — A Comment on Timothy Smeeding, 'Multiple Barriers to Economic Opportunity in the United States' (October 17, 2014). Russell Sage Foundation online materials, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2619908

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