In the name of the Father: marriage and intergenerational mobility in the United States, 1850-1930
Paserman, M. Daniele
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CitationClaudia Olivetti, M Daniele Paserman. "In the Name of the Father: Marriage and Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930.."
This paper constructs a continuous and consistent measure of intergenerational mobility in the United States between 1850 and 1930 by linking individuals with the same first name across pairs of decennial Censuses. One of the advantages of this methodology is that it allows to calculate intergenerational correlations not only between fathers and sons, but also between fathers-in-law and sons-in-law, something that is typically not possible with historical data. Thus, the paper sheds light on the role of marriage in the intergenerational transmis- sion of economic status from a historical perspective. We find that the father-son correlation in economic status grows throughout the period, but is consistently lower than the correlation between fathers-in-law and sons-in-law. The gap declines over time, and seems to have closed by the end of the period. We present a simple model of investment in human capital, marital sorting and intergenerational mobility that can rationalize the ?ndings.