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Accounting for Changes in Intergenerational Mobility

Handy, Christopher and Shester, Katharine (2020): Accounting for Changes in Intergenerational Mobility.

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Abstract

We use data from Opportunity Insights to study changes in intergenerational mobility over time in the U.S. Previous research has found no change in mobility at the national level, but we show that this hides substantial increases and decreases in mobility at the local level. These changes appear to be persistent, not simply noise. We use an R^2 decomposition to account for the changes in mobility. Changes in labor market conditions and house prices can explain two thirds of the changes in income mobility. Our results suggest caution in treating mobility as a fixed characteristic of a place.

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