Contemporary State Policies and Intergenerational Income Mobility
Using county-level analysis, this study demonstrates that there exists at most a minor relationship between the large, contemporary geographical variation in U.S. intergenerational income mobility and state-level policies. In addition to investigating the effects of specific policies, we introduce an omnibus test for state policy differences in total, based on the principle of geographic discontinuities. We further explore the discrepancy between these findings and the expected efficacy of mobility-enhancing policies seen in common applied economic models and successful program evaluations. We conclude that the gap between quasi-experimental evaluations and observed policy effects presents pressing questions for further study.
We would like to thank Samuel Higbee for superlative research assistance. We thank the BYU College of Family, Home, and Social Science for generous research support. We thank seminar participants at Aalto University for helpful feedback. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.