The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean

Abstract

In this paper, I estimate intergenerational mobility (IGM) in education using cross-sectional data from 91 censuses that span 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over half a century. I measure upward mobility as the likelihood of obtaining at least a primary education for individuals whose parents did not finish primary school, whereas downward mobility as the likelihood of failing to complete primary education for individuals whose parents completed at least primary school. In addition, I explore the geography of educational IGM using nearly 400 “provinces” (coarse administrative units similar to states in the U.S.) and more than 6,000 “districts” (fine administrative units similar to counties in the U.S.). I document wide cross-country and within-country heterogeneity. In LAC, the distance between the most and least upwardly mobile country is close to what has been recently documented in Africa, although the least mobile countries in Africa are less mobile than the least mobile in LAC. I document a declining trend in the mobility gap between urban and rural populations, but I do not find important differences by gender. Within countries, the level of mobility is highly correlated to the share of primary completion of the previous generation, which suggests a high level of inertia. In addition, upward (downward) mobility is negatively (positively) correlated to distance to the capital and the share of employment in agriculture, but positively (negatively) correlated to the share of employment in industry.

Publication
Submitted. Presentations: CUNY Graduate Center 2020, Missouri Valley Econ. Assoc. 2020, Stone Center 2020, WEAI 2021, Social Mobility and Economic Performance Workshop, MEA 2021, Centro de Estudios Espinosa Yglesias, Conference on Opportunities, Mobility, and Well-Being, SOLE 2021, CEA 2021 (scheduled), and ECINEQ Meeting (scheduled)
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Ercio A. Munoz
Ph.D. Candidate, CUNY

My research interests include applied econometrics, political economy, and socioeconomic inequality.