NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Three-generation Mobility in the United States, 1850-1940: The Role of Maternal and Paternal Grandparents

Claudia Olivetti, M. Daniele Paserman, Laura Salisbury

NBER Working Paper No. 22094
Issued in March 2016
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Labor Studies

This paper estimates intergenerational elasticities across three generations in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We extend the methodology in Olivetti and Paserman (2015) to explore the role of maternal and paternal grandfathers for the transmission of economic status to grandsons and granddaughters. We document three main findings. First, grandfathers matter for income transmission, above and beyond their effect on fathers' income. Second, the socio-economic status of grandsons is influenced more strongly by paternal grandfathers than by maternal grandfathers. Third, maternal grandfathers are more important for granddaughters than for grandsons, while the opposite is true for paternal grandfathers. We present a model of multi-trait matching and inheritance that can rationalize these findings.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22094

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