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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Contemporary State Policies and Intergenerational Income Mobility

Lars J. Lefgren, Jaren C. Pope, David P. Sims

NBER Working Paper No. 25896
Issued in May 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on Children, Economics of Education Program, Labor Studies Program

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.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25896

 
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