Measuring intergenerational mobility in the United States over the 20th century

Grant Type: academic

Grant Year: 2020

Grant Amount: $70,000

Grant description:

A clearer picture of U.S. intergenerational mobility is emerging for the latter part of the 20th century, but the same is not true for earlier in the century. This project is a massive data undertaking that will produce a database of mobility rates going back to 1900. Previous work, most notably the American Opportunity Study, links U.S. Census Decennials from 1940–2000.

This project makes some important extensions. It will expand the feasible linkages back to 1900 so that the panel spans the entire 20th century. Perhaps the most important contribution is the use of the Social Security Numerical Identification Files, or SS-5s, which contain information obtained from the application for a Social Security card for more than 40 million individuals who died prior to 2007 and include substantially more information on individuals than U.S. Census records, increasing the number of linkages and the quality of those linkages. In particular, the wealth of information in a single record is vastly superior to a Census-to-Census linking process and will better facilitate linkages within families, including for married women who have changed their names, improving the representation of women and racial and ethnic minorities. This will allow the researchers to study differences across space (states), as well as differences by race and gender.

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