Rucker Johnson

Rucker C. Johnson is assistant professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley.

Recent Articles

From One Generation to the Next

Poor health at birth is one key channel through which economic status is passed from parent to child. Smart policies can lift kids beyond the poverty of parents.

The U.S. takes pride in being a land of opportunity, and Americans maintain the core belief that hard work and determination are rewarded. But, how level is the intergenerational playing field, and what factors underlie the intergenerational transmission of economic status and well-being? If we hope to reduce the transmission of poverty from one generation to the next through effective policy interventions, we need to know the answers. Compared to most other high-income countries, the United States today has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility. Successful parents tend to have successful children; their earnings typically are highly predictive of their children's income as adults. Research by American University economist Tom Hertz, among others, has shown that mobility from one generation to the next in the U.S. is now lower than in France, Germany, Canada, and the Scandinavian countries. Only the United Kingdom is less mobile than our own society. How can this be?...