What we can say, with considerable certainty, is that while prices have gone up a lot since the pandemic began, most workers’ wages have risen significantly more. I’m told that real people know that inflation is still running hot, whatever the government numbers may say. Actually, the American Farm Bureau Association, a private group, tells us that Thanksgiving dinner cost 4.5% less this year than last. Gasbuddy.com, another private group, tells us that prices at the pump are down more than 30% since their peak last year. Neither turkeys nor gas prices are good measures of underlying inflation, but both show that the narrative of inflation still running wild is just not true. While the public’s negative view of the economy is a major puzzle, acknowledging that puzzle is no reason to soft-pedal the evidence that the U.S. economy is currently doing very well — indeed, much better than even optimists expected a year ago.
- Date Posted:
- November 30, 2023
This paper’s main message is that historical mobility was lower than previously estimated in linked data. To show why, I account for two measurement issues: unrepresentative samples and measurement error. First, I account for unrepresentative samples by adding Black families, who historical studies routinely drop. Second, I address measurement error by using multiple father observations to more accurately capture his permanent economic status. Using linked census data from 1850 to 1940, I show that accounting for race and measurement error can double estimates of intergenerational persistence. Updated estimates imply that there is greater equality of opportunity today than in the past, mostly because opportunity was never that equal.