Family Background, Neighborhoods and Intergenerational Mobility

73 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2021

See all articles by Magne Mogstad

Magne Mogstad

University of Chicago

Gaute Torsvik

University of Oslo, Dept of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 3, 2021


This paper reviews the literature on intergenerational mobility. While our review is centered around the large empirical literature on this topic, we also give a brief discussion of some of the relevant theory. We consider three strands of the empirical literature. First, we discuss how to measure intergenerational persistence in various socio-economic outcomes. We discuss both measurement challenges and some notable findings. We then turn to quantifying the importance of family environment and genetic factors for children's outcomes. We describe the pros and cons of various approaches as well as key findings. The third strand is concerned with drawing causal inferences about how children's outcomes are affected by specific features of their family environment. We discuss a wide range of environmental features, including the neighborhoods in which children grow up. We critically assess what conclusions one may and may not draw from certain celebrated studies of neighborhoods and intergenerational mobility.

JEL Classification: D1,J13,J24,J62

Suggested Citation

Mogstad, Magne and Torsvik, Gaute, Family Background, Neighborhoods and Intergenerational Mobility (June 3, 2021). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2021-67, Available at SSRN: or

Magne Mogstad (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Gaute Torsvik

University of Oslo, Dept of Economics ( email )


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