Economic Mobility in America a State of the Art Primer Part 3: Trends in the United States

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Is the American Dream dying?

A number of studies have examined this question by looking at trends in intergenerational economic mobility. However, studies using different datasets have produced different results. Few studies consider both relative and absolute mobility trends for both men and women. Few consider both summary measures of mobility and finer-grained measures. And few compare results from two different data sources.

This report is the third in a series summarizing the state of intergenerational mobility in the United States. While the first considered contemporary levels of mobility by different measures, and the second compared American mobility levels to those in other countries, this installment looks at trends in the US. A number of trends over the past 40 years are presented using four sets of birth cohorts from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and three sets of cohorts from the National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS). These birth cohorts are chosen so as to be comparable to each other to the extent possible.

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