Lukas Althoff will be presenting in person. Viewers may also attend via Zoom.
Throughout modern history, the U.S. has been considered the land of opportunity. Documenting the evolution of intergenerational mobility of Americans has been challenging because the records of large fractions of the population, especially women, cannot be linked across decades because their last names typically change upon marriage. This paper gathers data from 41 million Social Security applications that include maiden and married names to link their Census records across decades. We document the evolution of intergenerational mobility and one of its major determinants, assortative mating, from 1850 to 2000. Based on this data, we test key assumptions that underlie popular methods to estimate intergenerational mobility, providing new implications for theory and measurement.