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Intergenerational Mobility Begins Before Birth

Ananth Seshadri and Anson Zhou

No 29891, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Nearly 40% of births in the United States are unintended, and this phenomenon is disproportionately common among Black Americans and women with lower education. Given that being born to unprepared parents significantly affects children’s outcomes, could family planning access affect intergenerational persistence of economic status? We extend the standard Becker–Tomes model by incorporating an endogenous family planning choice. When the model is calibrated to match observed patterns of unintended fertility, we find that intergenerational mobility is significantly lower than that in the standard model. In a policy counterfactual where states improve access to family planning services for the poor, intergenerational mobility improves by 0.3 standard deviations on average. When we calibrate the model to match unintended birth rates by race, we find that differences in family planning access alone can account for 20% of the racial gap in upward mobility. Helping women fulfill their goals about family planning and childbearing can improve social mobility and address racial inequality.

JEL-codes: E6 J11 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem, nep-mac and nep-pke
Note: EFG
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Published as Ananth Seshadri & Anson Zhou, 2022. "Intergenerational Mobility Begins Before Birth," Journal of Monetary Economics, .

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