Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Geography of Intergenerational Mobility

29 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2018 Last revised: 26 Jul 2018

See all articles by Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies; University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Bhashkar Mazumder

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Date Written: March 12, 2018

Abstract

We use the NLSY79 to produce the first estimates of intergenerational mobility in the U.S. by both region and race/ethnicity. We show that gaps in intergenerational mobility by race are significantly larger than those by region. In particular, there is no region in the United States where it is better to be poor and black compared to being equally poor and white. We also show that the expected rank of Hispanics falls between that of whites and blacks. We find that the low mobility in the Southeast of the US documented by Chetty et al (2014) is actually driven by low mobility by whites and that blacks who grew up in the Southeast actually experience higher mobility than blacks growing up in the Northeast and Midwest. We also directly examine the role of migration and find that it plays little role in explaining the regional heterogeneity in intergenerational mobility. Finally, we use a rich set of individual covariates available in the NLSY — including test scores — and show that these can explain much of the gaps by race/ethnicity.

Keywords: intergenerational mobility, racial differences

JEL Classification: J62, J15

Suggested Citation

Davis, Jonathan and Mazumder, Bhashkar, Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Geography of Intergenerational Mobility (March 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3138979 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3138979

Jonathan Davis

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 E 60th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 E 60th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Bhashkar Mazumder (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

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