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CEE/Education and skills discussion paper
How Much Can We Learn from International Comparisons of Intergenerational Mobility?
Jo Blanden
November 2009
Paper No' CEEDP0111:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J62; J68; D63

Tags: intergenerational mobility; public policy; inequality

This paper summarises research on the relative level of intergenerational mobility – whether classified by income, social class, social status or education – considering observations from 65 countries. With the exception of social class, the different approaches reveal similar patterns. South America, other developing nations, southern European countries and France tending to have rather limited mobility while the Nordic countries exhibit strong mobility. Evidence for the US and Germany differs across the measures, with Germany immobile on education and class and fairly mobile on income and the reverse true for the US. These differences are likely explained by greater within-group income inequality and persistence in the US. The second part of the paper finds that mobility is negatively correlated with inequality and the returns to education and positively correlated with a nation’s education spending.