Stability and change in the land of opportunity: Geography and intergenerational mobility over the 20th century
Social scientists have recently found that intergenerational mobility – the rate at which people born to low-income parents climb the income ladder– varies sharply across the United States. We examine the degree to which this recent geography of opportunity reflects a continuation of long-term trends. We find that more racially segregated places have consistently curtailed economic opportunity over time. In contrast, the changes we observe in mobility outcomes reflect shifts in the geographic and reward structure of the economy over the last one hundred years. Specifically, industrial areas and the largest labor markets no longer confer the opportunity advantages that they once did. Our findings imply that efforts to equalize the landscape of opportunity face two severe challenges: a) the growing concentration of high-level economic activity among an increasingly smaller set of places and b) the deeply entrenched nature of local social contexts.

Dylan Connor is an Assistant Professor at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and the Spatial Analysis Research Cluster (SPARC) at Arizona State University. He uses big historical data to study immigration and the long-term evolution of inequality and cities. He has published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, the Journal of Economic History and the International Migration Review. Dr. Connor currently holds research grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health.

Faculty host: Cameron Campbell (
Speaker(s) Prof Dylan Connor
Arizona State University
Date 18 Sep 2019 (Wednesday)
Time 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Venue Room 3301 (via lifts 17-18), Academic Building, HKUST
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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