Social Mobility and Economic Development

Dr. Guido Neidhöfer, ZEW Mannheim

The aim of this study is to estimate the effect of social mobility on economic development. Economic reasoning suggests that higher social mobility – understood as better opportunities for poor families to improve their socioeconomic status over the course of generations – and economic performance should be positively interrelated, mainly due to a more efficient accumulation and allocation of human capital. However, very few empirical tests of this hypothesis exist. We explore the relationship between social mobility and economic development constructing a new panel data set including sub-national regions of 10 Latin American countries. For these regions, we estimate the degree of intergenerational mobility of people born between 1940 and 1990, and aggregate measures of economic development from 1990 to 2016. These are linked using a novel weighting procedure that considers the participation of the cohort to the economy in every specific year. Our results show a positive, significant, and robust impact of increasing social mobility on the economic development of Latin American regions. The project also contributes to the increasing literature on the geography of social mobility.

About the speaker

Guido Neidhöfer joined ZEW in September 2018 and is currently working in the research department “Labour Markets and Human Resources”. His research focuses on economic inequality, education, and migration.


Guido studied Development Economics at the University of Rome La Sapienza and Public Economics at Freie Universität Berlin. During his studies, he completed study and research stays at the Universitat de Barcelona, the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Peru, the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and the European University Institute in Florence. In December 2017, he completed his PhD in Economics at Freie Universität Berlin in the doctoral program "Public Economics and Inequality". In his dissertation he studied causes and consequences of economic inequality and social mobility. Following his doctoral studies he was employed as research associate at DIW Berlin – German Institute for Economic Research in the department "Education and Family”. Since 2016, Guido is fellow of the College for Interdisciplinary Educational Research (CIDER), a joint initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Jacobs Foundation, and the Leibniz Association that aims at supporting outstanding junior researchers in the field of interdisciplinary educational research. Furthermore, he is visiting scholar at the Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies (CEDLAS) of the University of La Plata in Argentina.


For the Zoom meeting details, please contact the organizers at:

Venue: via Zoom

Date: 04 June 2020

Time: 16:00 - 17:00  CET