Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fletcher to use grant to explore educational, economic mobility

Jason Fletcher Jason Fletcher

La Follette School economist Jason Fletcher has been awarded a $92,730 grant from the Russell Sage Foundation to analyze three school-based longitudinal datasets from the past three decades to assess educational mobility.

“I will focus on the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status and how these effects vary over time and across states,” Fletcher says of his project, Understanding the Role of Schools, State Policies, and Economic Conditions in Explaining Recent Trends in Education Mobility. “Rising levels of economic inequality since the early 1970s raise many questions about the intergenerational transmission of advantage and the effects of rising inequality on social mobility.”

The grant will support work done in the Wisconsin Policy Analysis Lab, Fletcher says. “Graduate students interested in helping with the research should contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”

Scholars have analyzed IRS data on earnings correlations across generations and concluded that there has been little change in income mobility in the recent past, although they document substantial geographic variation in mobility, he notes. “Because most research on social mobility has focused on economic indicators and because increased education remains important as a perceived path to social and economic mobility, I suspect a better understanding of educational mobility will help us understanding trends in economic mobility.”

Fletcher plans to first estimate trends in the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status in education across three decades at the national, state and sub-state levels. Next, he will leverage the unique school-based sampling strategy of each dataset to examine the impacts of shared school environments on intergenerational transmission and examine how these effects vary over time and across states. And finally, he will examine differences in the intergenerational transmission estimates based on state policy variation (e.g. graduation requirements, funding), school characteristics, and state economic conditions and policies (e.g. taxes, tax bases).

Fletcher is receiving the funds through the Russell Sage Foundation’s Social Inequality program that examines the social and political consequences of rising economic inequality, including in-depth examinations of public education and intergenerational social mobility, funding projects that examine access to early education, growing wealth disparities in the United States, and the effects of household wealth on child development.