Kasey Buckles, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame, presents, “Family Trees and Falling Apples: Intergenerational Mobility Estimates from U.S. Genealogy Data”
We use an innovative strategy for linking parents to their adult children in the United States census to produce estimates of the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status from 1850 to 1940. We begin with data from a large, online, crowd- sourced genealogy platform (familysearch.org), which includes millions of users who personally link records to the profiles of their family members. We include the links created by these users in our data set, but also use information from the links they create to inform other supervised and unsupervised matching methods. Our completed data set, which we call the Census Tree, contains hundreds of millions of links among the 1850-1940 censuses. This data set is beyond the current frontier in terms of the precision, recall, and representativeness of the included links. We use these data to produce estimates of the intergenerational transmission of characteristics including occupation score, literacy, and fertility. Because family members do the linking and often know the maiden names of women in their family, we are able to include women in our analysis where previous research has omitted them.