Intergenerational Mobility in Africa


Alesina, Alberto, Sebastian Hohmann, Stelios Michalopoulos, and Elias Papaioannou. 2018. “Intergenerational Mobility in Africa”.
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We investigate the evolution of inequality and intergenerational mobility in educational attainment in Africa. Using census data covering more than 50 million people in 23 countries we document the following regularities. First, since independence, inequality has fallen across countries and intergen-erational mobility has risen, reflecting the rise in education across the continent. Second, the overall drop in African inequality can be attributed mostly to declines in within-country, within-region and within-ethnicity components. Third, the initially moderate regional and ethnic differences in education persist, revealing strong inertia across these lines. Fourth, we describe the geography of educational mobility across regions and ethnic groups uncovering strong “poverty-trap” dynamics. Educational mo-bility is higher in regions and ethnicities with above-country-average schooling at independence. Fifth, we explore the geographic, historical, and contemporary correlates of intergenerational mobility both across regions and ethnic lines. Colonial investments correlate strongly with educational mobility, while geography and pre-colonial features play a lesser role. The analysis further uncovers “Gatsby Curve” dynamics with intergenerational mobility being low in regions with high inequality.