Working Paper 14/332 - Abstract

Moving Towards Estimating Lifetime Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the UK (PDF, 529kB)


Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan and Claudia Vittori

Estimates of intergenerational economic mobility that use point in time measures of income and earnings suffer from lifecycle and attenuation bias. We consider these issues for the National Child Development Study (NCDS) and British Cohort Study (BCS) for the first time, highlighting how common methods used to deal with these biases do not eradicate these issues. To attempt to overcome this, we offer the first estimates of lifetime intergenerational economic mobility for the UK. In doing so, we discuss a third potential bias, regularly ignored in the literature, driven by spells out of work. When all three biases are considered, our best estimate of lifetime intergenerational economic persistence in the UK is 0.43, significantly higher than previously thought. We discuss why there is good reason to believe that this is still a lower bound.

Key words:  Intergenerational mobility, schooling, child development.