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Geography of Economic Mobility

Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez

“The United States is often hailed as the ‘land of opportunity,’ a society in which a child’s chances of success depend little on her family background. Is this reputation warranted? We show that this question does not have a clear answer because there is substantial variation in intergenerational mobility across areas within the U.S. The U.S. is better described as a collection of societies, some of which are “lands of opportunity” with high rates of mobility across generations, and others in which few children escape poverty.”

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