October 2023 CEP Featured Article

"Social Security Disability Insurance and intergenerational economic mobility"

by Katie Jajtner, Matt Messel and Jason Fletcher



Economic opportunity in the United States is shaped by parental health and disability. We hypothesize that Disability Insurance (DI) may mitigate the observed pattern. Using linked survey and administrative data, we find children of work-limited parents have 4.1 percentiles less upward economic mobility and 4.3 percentiles more downward mobility relative to children of non-limited parents. Despite poorer health, children of parents initially awarded DI experience a negligible mobility gap relative to peers whose parents never apply to DI and 3.6 percentiles more upward mobility than peers of parents who are initially denied benefits—suggesting DI may moderate economic mobility.

First published: 19 July 2023 | https://doi.org/10.1111/coep.12617

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