Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jessamyn Schaller

Rights Information

Devon E Wolfe


In this paper, I conduct descriptive analysis of intergenerational income transmission in the United States from an intersectional framework. I use data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of the Youth (NLSY) to examine whether marital status impacts the correlation between a child’s income as an adult and the income of the household they grew up in, and whether this relationship differs by sex and race. I take two econometric approaches – estimating the intergenerational elasticity of income (IGE) and intergenerational rank association (IRA). Both approaches control for and interact with factors such as race, educational attainment, and marital status. I estimate a household income IGE of 0.29 and an individual income IGE of 0.09. These are within the lower range of estimates found in existing literature. While my IGEs are highly sensitive to income measurement, my IRA estimates are robust to sample specification. I find, on average, children born to parents 10 percentiles higher in the income distribution end up 3.7 percentiles higher in the household income distribution and 3.0 percentiles higher in the individual income distribution. Marital status does not correlate with IRAs for the core sample but does impact respondents of certain sex and racial categories. It acts as a strong channel for income transmission for black and Hispanic respondents, highlighting the role intersectionality plays in influencing opportunity in the US.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.