57 Pages Posted: 2 May 2016 Last revised: 10 Dec 2017
Date Written: April 25, 2016
In this paper, we explore nonlinearities in the intergenerational mobility process using threshold regression models. We uncover evidence of threshold effects in children’s outcomes based on parental education and cognitive and non-cognitive skills as well as their interaction with offspring characteristics. We interpret these thresholds as organizing dynastic earnings processes into “status traps”. Status traps, unlike poverty traps, are not absorbing states. Rather, they reduce the impact of favorable shocks for disadvantaged children and so inhibit upward mobility in ways not captured by linear models. Our evidence of status traps is based on three complementary datasets; i.e., the PSID, the NLSY, and US administrative data at the commuting zone level, which together suggest that the threshold-like mobility behavior we observe in the data is robust for a range of outcomes and contexts.
Keywords: intergenerational mobility, threshold regression, inequality, poverty traps
JEL Classification: C13, C51, D31, J62
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation