Volume 38 - Article 59 | Pages 1815–1842  

The effects of family and location on wealth: A longitudinal study of the US North, 1850–1870

By Alice Kasakoff, Andrew Lawson, Purbasha Dasgupta, Michael DuBois, Stephen Feetham


Background: Family effects can be confounded with spatial effects, since family members live near each other.

Objective: Our aim is to find out whether a father’s wealth was related to his son’s wealth when spatial effects are included in the model. The data is from the United States from 1850 to 1870. Since the data comes from genealogies we are also able to test for deeper family effects lasting several generations.

Methods: This article uses Bayesian longitudinal methods that incorporate spatial effects. The data comes from the genealogies of nine New England families that have been linked to the US censuses of 1850, 1860, and 1870, which had information on real property, the dependent variable in our analysis.

Results: No relationship was found between the wealth of the father and his sons in our data, nor were the deeper family effects significant. Spatial effects were also not significant. However, there was a strong temporal effect: Men were wealthier in 1860 than they were in 1850 or 1870.

Conclusions: There is evidence of economic mobility in a rapidly expanding population and economy such as the United States was during the 19th century. Since temporal effects were more important than spatial effects the amount of mobility might be transitory and highly dependent upon the particular time period and cohort being studied.

Contribution: The article illustrates the usefulness of methods that include spatial effects for the study of economic mobility, particularly in studies of family effects, and the importance of including both spatial and temporal effects when analyzing economic mobility.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

A Bayesian analysis of the spatial concentration of individual wealth in the US North during the nineteenth century
Volume 30 - Article 36

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