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On the Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Status

Sang Yoon (Tim) Lee and Ananth Seshadri

Journal of Political Economy, 2019, vol. 127, issue 2, 855 - 921

Abstract: We present a model in which human capital investments occur over the life cycle and across generations, à la Becker and Tomes. The human capital technology features multiple stages of childhood investments, college, and life cycle accumulation. The model can explain a wide range of intergenerational relationships while remaining empirically consistent with cross-sectional inequality. Much of the latter is determined by early investments in children, so that borrowing constraints faced by young parents are important for understanding the persistence of economic status across generations. Education subsidies, especially early on, can significantly reduce the intergenerational persistence of economic status.

Date: 2019
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