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10/26/2011

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Jacques René Giguère

But absolute mobility has declined precisely because relativemobility has declined. Income inequality didn't arise because of differences in productivity but because a group has stolen the other's production...

Paul Kelleher

Thanks for your comment JRG. I completely agree that since 1979 the distribution of economic gains has shifted to the top, and that this is one (if not the) reasons for stagnant living standards in the bottom and the middle. But note that we have two different issues here: (1) would a more even-handed distribution since 1979 have enhanced *relative* mobility appreciably?; and (2) would a more even-handed distribution since 1979 have enhanced *absolute* mobility appreciably? The answer to (2) is clearly yes; in contrast, (1) is harder to answer, because it depends not just on whether living standards in the bottom and middle are growing, but also on the mechanisms that permit movement across income quintiles. My point is that there seems to be good reason to want, at a fundamental level, absolute mobility to be increasing; but it is a harder question whether relative mobility is, in itself, very important, and if so how important it is.

I just don't want us to be distracted by relative mobility when it's absolute mobility that we should want (or that we should want more than relative mobility).

sorry if that's confusing; i'm dashing this off before class!

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In any case note that we have several better issues here, could a more fair dissemination following 1979 have upgraded.

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