Chart notes | Mobility

Figure 3A. Median family income over the householder’s working life, by birth cohort. Data are from Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement Historical Income Tables, Table F-11, “Age of Householder—Families, All Races by Median and Mean Income: 1947 to 2010.” Data are inflated to 2011 dollars using the CPI-U-RS (Consumer Price Index Research Series Using Current Methods). Income measured is family money income, defined in Chapter 2.

Figure 3B. Share of families in the bottom and top income fifths in 1994 ending up in various income fifths in 2004. Data are from Acs and Zimmerman (2008a), Table 2, “Quintile Transitions, Two-Year Average Income (Relative Mobility).” Data for other years and relationships are available on The State of Working America website (http://stateofworkingamerica.org/).

Figure 3C. Share of workers with large shifts in real annual earnings from 2002 to 2003, by earnings fifth. Data are from Dahl and Schwabish (2008), Table 1, “Distribution of Changes in Workers’ Annual Real Earnings from 2002–2003, by Sex, Age, and Earnings Quintile.” The sample consists of workers age 25 to 55 who had earnings from employment covered by Social Security in 2002 or 2003. Earnings include wages and salaries, tips, and other forms of compensation; they exclude self-employment income and deferred compensation. Before the percentage change was calculated, earnings were adjusted for inflation using the CPI-U-RS.

Figure 3D. Share of taxpayers at the top of the income distribution in 1996 ending up in various income groups in 2005. Data are from U.S. Department of the Treasury (2007), Table 2, “The Degree of Mobility Remains Substantial after Restricting the Analysis to Taxpayers Included in the Panel of Tax Returns.” The table uses the tax returns of primary and secondary nondependent taxpayers who were age 25 and older in 1996 and filed for both 1996 and 2005. Income cutoffs for the percentiles are based only on the tax returns of the panel population. Income is cash income in 2005 dollars.

Figure 3E. Characteristics associated with leaving the bottom income fifth. The figure is adapted from Acs and Zimmerman (2008b), Figure 5, “Characteristics Associated with Leaving the Bottom Quintile.” Coefficients are based on a linear probability regression that includes these characteristics as well as dummy variables for age, the presence of children, and the presence of other adults in the household. Own and spouse work hours are measured in thousand-hour units. Acs and Zimmerman do not differentiate between spouses and permanent cohabiters, and interact the spouse hours variable with a dummy variable for the spouse’s presence. Only characteristics with statistically significant coefficients in at least one time period are shown. In the 1984–1994 time period, the coefficients for white, more than high school, disability, and spouse present are statistically significant at the 99 percent confidence level; high school education is statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level; and male, homeowner, own hours, and spouse’s hours are statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level. In the 1994–2004 time period, the coefficients for more than high school and own hours are statistically significant at the 99 percent confidence level.

Figure 3F. Characteristics associated with entering the bottom income fifth. The figure is adapted from Acs and Zimmerman (2008b), Figure 6, “Characteristics Associated with Entering the Bottom Quintile.” Coefficients are based on a linear probability regression that includes these characteristics as well as dummy variables for age, education, the presence of children, and own work hours. Own and spouse work hours are measured in thousand-hour units. Acs and Zimmerman do not differentiate between spouses and permanent cohabiters, and interact the spouse hours variable with a dummy variable for the spouse’s presence. Only characteristics with statistically significant coefficients in at least one time period are shown. In the 1984–1994 time period, the coefficients for middle fifth, fourth fifth, and top fifth are statistically significant at the 99 percent confidence level; male and spouse present are statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level; and spouse work hours is statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level. In the 1994–2004 time period, the coefficients for disability, fourth fifth, and top fifth are statistically significant at the 99 percent confidence level; white is statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level; and homeowner, other adult present, and middle fifth are statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence interval.

Figure 3G. Likelihood that sons of low-earning fathers end up above various earnings thresholds as adults, depending on estimated ease of mobility. Data are from Solon (1989), Table 5, “Probability that Son’s Long-Run Status Is in Specified Decile Given Percentile of Father’s Status.” Data are from the 1985 follow-up to the 1968 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. “Earnings” refers to wages.

Figure 3H. Intergenerational correlations between the earnings of fathers and sons in OECD countries. The figure is adapted from Corak (2011), Figure 1, “Comparable Estimates of the Intergenerational Elasticity between Father and Son Earnings for the United States and Twenty Four Other Countries.” “Earnings” refers to wages.

Figure 3I. Share of sons of fathers in the bottom earnings fifth ending up in the bottom or top two-fifths as adults, by country. Data are from Jantti et al. (2006), Table 12, “Intergenerational Mobility Tables—Earnings Quintile Group Transition Matrices Corrected for Age for Fathers and Sons.” These results include only those father-son pairs that have non-zero earnings (wages).

Figure 3J. Share of daughters of fathers in the bottom earnings fifth ending up in the bottom or top two-fifths as adults, by country. Data are from Jantti et al. (2006), Table 13, “Intergenerational Mobility Tables—Earnings Quintile Group Transition Matrices Corrected for Age for Fathers and Daughters.” These results include only those father-daughter pairs that have non-zero earnings (wages).

Figure 3K. Share of children in the bottom income fourth ending up in either the bottom or top income fourth as adults, by race. Data are from Hertz (2006), Table 1, “Mobility Experience of Children Born in the Bottom Quartile, By Race.” The quartile boundaries change over time, as real incomes grow. The black-white gap in the likelihood of upward mobility was statistically significant at the 1 percent level, and persists after controlling for one’s starting position within the quartile, and for parental education.

Figure 3L. Share of children from various earnings fifths ending up in the bottom fifth as adults, by race. Data are from Mazumder (2011), Table 7, “Transition Matrices by Race Using SIPP-SSA Sample.” Both panels use subsamples drawn from a sample of 16,782 men from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and Social Security Administration data and use a multiyear average of sons’ earnings over 2003–2007 and parents’ earnings over 1978–1986.

Figure 3M. Share of children in the bottom and top wealth fifths ending up in various wealth fifths as adults. Data are from Charles and Hurst (2002), Table 2, “Intergenerational Transition Matrix of Age-Adjusted Log Wealth Position.” The sample includes all PSID parent-child pairs in which the following conditions were met (1,491 pairs): Parents were in the survey in 1984–1989 and alive in 1989, the child was in the survey in 1999, the parent was not retired and was between age 25 and 65 in 1984, the child was between age 25 and 65 in 1999, and the child and parent both had positive wealth when measured.

Figure 3N. Share of entering classes at top universities and community colleges coming from families in various socioeconomic fourths. Data are from Carnevale and Rose (2003), Table 1.1, “Socioeconomic Status of Entering Classes.” Socioeconomic status is measured by a composite score that includes family income, parental education, and parental occupation.

Figure 3O. Share of students completing college, by socioeconomic status and eighth-grade test scores. Data are from Fox, Connolly, and Snyder (2005), Table 21, “Percentage Distribution of 1988 Eighth-Graders’ Educational Attainment by 2000, by Eighth-Grade Mathematics Achievement and Selected Student Characteristics: 2000.” Socioeconomic status is measured by a composite score that includes family income, parental education, and parental occupation.

Figure 3P. Share of adults remaining in the same income fifth they were in as children, by college attainment. Data are from Isaacs, Sawhill, and Haskins (2008), Figure 6, “Chances of Getting Ahead for Children with and without a College Degree, from Families of Varying Income.”

Figure 3Q. Intergenerational mobility and income inequality in 22 countries. The figure is adapted from Corak (2012), Figure 2, “More Inequality at a Point in Time Is Associated with Less Generational Earnings Mobility in Twenty Five Countries with Comparable Estimates of the Intergenerational Elasticity Between Father and Son Earnings.” Note that data points for Italy and the United Kingdom overlap, and that the upward sloping line is the least squares fitted regression line.

Figure 3R. Distance between income groups in the United States versus the European Union (hypothetical). Authors’ illustration.

Figure 3S. Share of people in the bottom and top family income fifths moving along the income scale, 1970–1980 to 1995–2005. The figure is adapted from Bradbury (2011), Figure 2, “Position-relative Origin-specific Mobility for Poorest and Richest Quintiles.”

Figure 3T. Share of working-age individuals experiencing a 50% or greater drop in family income over two years, 1971–2004. Data are from Hacker and Jacobs (2008), Figure C, “Prevalence of a 50% or Greater Drop in Family Income.” The line traces the share of individuals age 25 to 61 who experience a 50 percent or greater drop in before-tax total family income (adjusted for family size) from one year to two years later. Data after 1996 are only available every two years.

Figure 3U. Elasticities between parental income and sons’ earnings, 1950–2000. Data are from Aaronson and Mazumder (2007), Table 1,“Estimates of the IGE Using Census IPUMS Data.” Data reflect annual family income for the parents and annual earnings for the sons.

Figure 3V. Share of 25-year-olds from each family income fourth without a college degree, by birth cohort. Data are from Bailey and Dynarski (2011), Figure 3, “Fraction of Students Completing College, by Income Quartile and Year of Birth,” which is based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 and 1997. Family income fourths are those of 25-year-olds when they were children.

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