Wealth Mobility in America: A View from the National Longitudinal Survey
Richard H. Steckel, Jayanthi Krishnan
We depict and analyze wealth mobility in a national sample of nearly 4,000 households interviewed by the National Longitudinal Survey over a ten year period from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s. A transition matrix, the Shorrocks measure, average decile position for various subgroups, and wealth in period two compared with wealth in period one are used to describe patterns of wealth mobility. These results and regression models of change in percentile position, of persistence in the top, of movement into the top, of persistence into the bottom, and of movement into the bottom identify winners and losers. The losers include single people, blacks, and those who experienced marital disruption, while winners were the skilled and more educated. These findings have implications for the interpretation of cross-sectional measures of inequality, the explanation of long-term trends in wealth mobility, and the consequences of recent trends in the wage structure.