Lukas Althoff & Carol Shou, Princeton University

Mar 2, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
Louis A. Simpson International Building, Rm 271


Event Description

"Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating" - Lukas Althoff 

"Community College Finance Reform: the Case of California's Proposition 13" - Carol Shou 


The US has been considered the land of opportunity. However representative estimates of intergenerational mobility are scarce as women's historical records are difficult to trace once their name changes upon marriage. This paper overcomes the challenge of linking women's census records using information from Social Security Number (SSN) applications. Those applications contain the maiden and married names of 60 million women—either as applicants or as applicants' mothers. Our new panel dataset covers an unprecedented number of women between 1850 and 1940 and opens a myriad of new opportunities to study women's role in the US economy. We document three important new facts. First we construct representative estimates of intergenerational mobility from 1850 to 1940 from our new panel. We show that historically women's intergenerational mobility tended to be higher than men's for Black and white Americans. Second we highlight mothers' significant role in predicting their children's future outcomes suggesting that traditional father-child comparisons overestimate intergenerational mobility. Third we document a robust relationship between sorting in marriage markets and levels of intergenerational mobility across time and space. The more sorting there is in the marriage market the more rigid the socioeconomic status of families across generations. - Lukas Althoff