Intergenerational Income Mobility in Singapore

Irene Ng 1 , 1
  • 1 National University of Singapore, swknyhi@nus.edu.sg

Abstract

Research on intergenerational earnings mobility in less developed economies is lacking. This paper investigates the case of Singapore, a newly-industrialized economy in Asia. Interval regressions are employed because of grouped dependent variables. Instrumental variables address problems of respondent errors and unobserved permanent income. Still, the estimated intergenerational elasticity of between 0.23 and 0.28 is probably under-estimated because the study uses a survey of young respondents who reported contemporaneous incomes of parents. Transformation of the estimates using scales in recent comparative studies indicates that intergenerational earnings mobility in Singapore may be moderately low when compared internationally. Education as a means through which parents invest in their children's future earnings appears important. There are some small independent returns from schooling. Mobility does not appear to differ by ethnicity, sex or income. These findings have important implications for equity, development and policy in Singapore, which has rising income disparity, a maturing economy, and an educational system which is increasingly privately run.

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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy (BEJEAP) is an international forum for scholarship that employs microeconomics to analyze issues in business, consumer behavior and public policy. Topics include the interaction of firms, the functioning of markets, the effects of domestic and international policy and the design of organizations and institutions.

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