Monday, May 16, 2005

Class and mobility

Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolution cites some recent research by David Card on immigrant assimilation.

At the same time, the NY Times ("Class in America: The Shadowy Line That Still Divides") and the WSJ ("As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls", citing work by Bash Mazumder at the Chicago Fed) are both running series on income mobility.

Trouble is that the best mobility studies rely on panel survey data which, by definition, exclude the immigrants. High immigration rates also undermine the value of income-gap stories. Until there is a way to fix these problems, all that we are left with is to try and balance the pro-assimilation good news from the immigrant studies with the mixed or negative news from the mobility studies.

It is safe to say that all those trying mightily to cross the southern border are not making some huge mistake. Or, then again, perhaps they are. Have behavioral economists looked at immigration yet?