Parental Priorities and Economic Inequality

by Casey B. Mulligan

Chapter VI

The Evolution of Economic Inequality in the U.S.

How has inequality evolved over time? Answers to this question provide some of the facts that a theory of intergenerational mobility should match. This chapter begins by describing some of the links between intergenerational mobility and the evolution of inequality over time. The rest presents evidence on two points. First, I argue that income, earnings, and wealth regress to the mean across several generations. The very long term evidence complements the shorter term - but more direct evidence - on intergenerational mobility presented in Chapter VII. Second, I suggest that the very long term trend is towards more economic equality. This second conclusion is less definite, but also only indirectly related to the theoretical models presented in Chapters III and IV.

© copyright 1996, Casey B. Mulligan.