Intergenerational Occupational Mobility and Health in the United States

Hands belonging to three generations of a family

Does intergenerational socieconomic mobility—that is, achieving an adult socioeconomic position that exceeds or falls short of one’s parents—impact health and well-being? Do mobility effects matter net of socioeconomic origins and destinations? Are any such effects homogenous across demographic subgroups? Using nationally representative U.S. High School and Beyond data, we examine (1) the effects of intergenerational occupational mobility on physical, mental health (i.e., hypertension, diabetes, depression, loneliness) and cognitive function, as well as subjective health conditions and (2) how these effects vary by gender and race. We use the recently developed Mobility Contrast Model (Luo 2022) and estimate the unique effects of mobility after controlling for the effects of socioeconomic origins and destinations. Our findings suggest that intergenerational mobility has significant effects on the risk of some health conditions, yet the effects are inconsistent across sex- and racial groups. For example: Upward mobility decreases the risks of hypertension diagnosis for men, White, and Black people, and increases depression and loneliness level for only men and Hispanic group.

H. Jeong, University of Minnesota; J.R. Warren, University of Minnesota; L. Lao, Pennsylvania State University; E. Grodsky, University of Wisconsin; J. Xu, Pennsylvania State University

Friday, August 18, 2023

ASA, Philadelphia, United States