June 2024

IZA DP No. 17072: Schooling Mobility across Three Generations in Six Latin American Countries

This paper presents new evidence on schooling mobility across three generations in six Latin American countries. By combining survey information with national census data, we have constructed a novel dataset that includes 50,000 triads of grandparents, parents, and children born between 1890 and 1990. We estimate five intergenerational mobility (IGM) measures, finding that (i) the empirical multigenerational persistence in our six countries is twice as high as in developed countries, and 77% higher than what the theoretical model by Becker & Tomes (1986) predicts; (ii) Clark's (2014) theory of high and sticky persistence provides a better approximation for describing mobility across multiple generations in our sample; (iii) Even with high persistence, we uncover significant mobility improvements at the bottom of the distribution by estimating measures of absolute upward mobility (Chetty et al., 2014) and bottom-half mobility (Asher et al., 2022) over three generations. This novel evidence deepens our understanding of long-term mobility, and we expect future research to replicate it as more multigenerational data becomes available in different contexts.