Published: February 1, 2019


Intergenerational mobility is an important dimension of equality of opportunity. However, the evidence on the degree of intergenerational mobility in Australia, the extent to which economic outcomes persist from one generation to the next, has to date been limited in its precision and scope by the data available.

A new Life Course Centre Working Paper aims to fill this gap by presenting the first national and regional estimates of standard measures of intergenerational mobility in Australia using administrative data. Authored by Nathan Deutscher of the Australian National University and Bhashkar Mazumder of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the paper finds that Australia emerges as among the most mobile countries in the world. However, the average experiences mask significant movements across the income spectrum. The paper also estimates intergenerational mobility across Australian regions, with meaningful differences emerging both within the country and within individual cities such as Sydney and Melbourne.

Examining measures of mobility in Australia has the potential to tell us much about the diverse experiences of intergenerational mobility and the potential mechanisms that underlie it.  This paper provides a step in that direction, providing more precise national estimates of intergenerational mobility, and also describing some of the detail lost in national averages. The paper examines a cohort born from 1978 to 1982, for whom later life outcomes can also be investigated. It is not yet clear what the measures of mobility will look like for children of the 1990s, 2000s and beyond.

You can read the full Working Paper here.