The Economics of the Great Gatsby Curve: a picture is worth a thousand words
A quick post to thank Scott Winship for his response to my feedback on his original article. His comments are now on the National Review web site.
But I am afraid they do not advance the discussion. I addressed all of the technical issues in my original paper (see the appendix). The internationally comparable estimates I offered account for these concerns.
But let me repeat the picture of the Great Gatsby Curve using the most recent information on the largest available set of countries.
Does anything said in this debate overturn the positive relationship? Is the suggestion really that this relationship would be reversed? I don’t think so.
We might argue about the exact slope but so what: the fact that this relationship is also found when other measures of generational mobility are used—like the correlation in years of education where there are less concerns about measurement issues—suggests it is robust.
The best part of Scott’s response is the suggestion that we should start thinking about how inequality, and what kind of inequality, influences opportunity. And that is why I suggested those interested in public policy give the Haskins – Sawhill book a careful read. It is written in a bi-partisan way, faithful to the evidence, and linked to policy levers.
The contribution of the Great Gatsby Curve is to make these sorts of issues the subject of careful consideration and debate.
[Update: this post was updated with a revised figure on January 27, 2012, and detailed source information is provided in the updated version of the original post available here.]