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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

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Intergenerational Mobility in Australia

Andrew Leigh
  • 1Australian National University,
Published Online: 2007-12-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.1781


Combining four surveys conducted over a forty year period, I calculate intergenerational earnings elasticities for Australia, using predicted earnings in parents' occupations as a proxy for actual parental earnings. In the most recent survey, the elasticity of sons' wages with respect to fathers' wages is around 0.2. Comparing this estimate with earlier surveys, I find little evidence that intergenerational mobility in Australia has significantly risen or fallen over time. Applying the same methodology to United States data, I find that Australian society exhibits more intergenerational mobility than the United States. My method appears to slightly overstate the degree of intergenerational mobility; if the true intergenerational earnings elasticity in the United States is 0.4–0.6 (as recent studies have suggested), then the intergenerational earnings elasticity in Australia is probably around 0.2–0.3.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: social mobility; imputed earnings; Australia; United States

Published Online: 2007-12-26

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 7, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.1781, December 2007

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