Leah Boustan, Princeton University

"Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the U.S. over Two Centuries".

A defining feature of the “American Dream” is the view that even immigrants who come to the United States with few resources and little skills have a real chance at improving their children’s prospects. We use father-son linked datasets on millions of immigrants to study whether the children of immigrants catch up in their earnings with the children of the U.S.-born, and how the intergenerational mobility of immigrants to the US has changed over the last two centuries. Both in the past and today, children of immigrants had higher chances of moving up in the income distribution relative to the children of U.S.-born parents with comparable family income or occupation score. We provide suggestive evidence that immigrants’ location choices and mismatch between the position of immigrant fathers in the income distribution and their true ability or earnings potential both contribute to these higher levels of upward mobility.

Contact person: Casper Worm