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Local Changes in Intergenerational Mobility

Handy, Christopher and Shester, Katharine (2022): Local Changes in Intergenerational Mobility. Forthcoming in: Labour Economics

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Abstract

We study changes in intergenerational income mobility over time at the local level in the U.S., using data on individuals born in the 1980s. Previous research has found no change in mobility at the national level during this time period, but we show that this hides substantial increases and decreases in mobility at the local level. For children from low-income families, there is convergence in mobility over time, and average differences by region become much smaller. For children from high-income families, the geographic variation in mobility becomes much larger. Our results suggest caution in treating mobility as a fixed characteristic of a place.

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