Book Chapter
The Many Facets of Economic Mobility

The literature on economic mobility is vast. Yet, the different indices used by different authors are not measures of the same underlying conceptual entity; rather, different mobility indices measure fundamentally different concepts. Using data for the United States and France, I address such fundamental mobility questions as whether mobility has been rising or falling over time and which groups in the population have more mobility than others. The results show that the answers to even these most fundamental questions depend on the mobility concept used. The implication is that before social scientists “do a mobility study,” we need to be very clear about the mobility concept or concepts we wish to study. The choice can and does make a vital difference.