Essays on intergenerational mobility and its variation over time, place and family structure
This thesis focuses on how the economic status of children is related to their parental income. I begin by measuring the intergenerational earnings mobility of sons in a comparative framework. I compare the extent of earnings mobility for sons in the UK, US, West Germany and Canada, and consider how mobility has changed across time in the UK and US. I find that while it is difficult to statistically distinguish between estimates, it appears that the UK and US are less mobile than the other countries. When looking over time, there is definitive evidence that mobility for sons in the UK has declined, while there is no such evidence for the US. There is a clear connection between the persistence of income inequality across generations and the unequal distribution of educational attainments. I show that part of the decline in mobility in the UK is due to increasingly unequal access to higher education. The majority of the literature on intergenerational mobility stresses the relationship between individual earnings and parental income. But economic well- being also depends on the earnings and income of partners. If partner's income is strongly connected with parental income this will reinforce individual earnings persistence. Assortative mating is the extent to which people with similar characteristics form couples, and this has a crucial role here in explaining the link between partners and parents. The final section of this thesis explores the role of assortative mating in intergenerational mobility. For the UK, I demonstrate that the increasing association between parental incomes and the earnings of daughters-in-law substantially adds to the relationship between sons' and their parents' family incomes. For Canada, I am able to link the incomes of both sets of parents for the couple. I demonstrate that the association between parental incomes within the couple is a new measure of assortative mating and show that couples who are less similar in terms of their parental income are more likely to separate.