Using linked Census data to examine occupation mobility in the United States
Recent research by Raj Chetty and other economists using tax return data has allowed for a deeper understanding of the levels and trends of economic mobility in the United States, but there hasn’t been equivalent data for the analysis of social mobility. This study will develop a new longitudinally linked U.S. Census American Community Survey dataset that will allow for parallel analyses of occupational mobility. This will be an important complement to the recent work on economic mobility that will allow for a richer understanding of what mobility actually looks and feels like for Americans. An analysis of occupational mobility in addition to economic mobility will allow for an analysis of whether individuals trade higher earnings for other occupational traits such as prestige, creating a more nuanced understanding of what opportunity looks like. In addition, the project will advance the literature by decomposing intergenerational occupational mobility by race, migration status, family structure, and type of occupation. This work is part of a larger database creation effort at the U.S. Census Bureau, the American Opportunity Study, which will create a panel that will represent the full U.S. population over the past 70 years, increasing the ability of researchers to use linked census data to study many demographic and economic questions in the later half of the 20th century.