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Guest lecture

Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults? Lessons from a Cross Country Comparison of Generational Earnings Mobility

Event series: 

Abstract from Prof Miles Corak's Guest Lecture presented at the Treasury on 04 July 2007.


Prof Miles Corak

School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa

Miles Corak is a Full Professor with the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. Up until 2007 he was the Director of the Family and Labour Studies Division at Statistics Canada, a research group within the national statistical agency of Canada devoted to analysis of the well-being of children and families. During 2003/04 he was a visitor at the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence Italy, working as the research coordinator and lead researcher for the UNICEF Innocenti Report Card "Child Poverty in Rich Countries, 2005". He holds an MA in economics from McGill University and a PhD from Queen’s University, and was a member of the research staff of the Economic Council of Canada before joining Statistics Canada in 1991. He is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn Germany), the co-chair of the Canadian Employment Research Forum, and a past member of the council of the European Society for Population Economics.

He has published in a wide variety of academic and policy orientated journals on topics dealing with access to university education, intergenerational earnings and income mobility, unemployment dynamics, and unemployment insurance. His most recent research deals with conceptual and measurement issues in the definition of child poverty, understanding levels and changes in child poverty rates in the OECD, and the socio-economic status of immigrants and children of immigrants. His recent publications have appeared in, among other journals, the International Social Security Review, Research in Labor Economics, the Journal of Labor Economics, and the Journal of Human Resources. He has also edited three books, the most recent—Generational Income Mobility in North America and Europe—was published by Cambridge University Press in 2004. His research has been cited in all of the major Canadian and international media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist


A cross country comparison of generational earnings mobility is offered, and the reasons for the degree to which the long run labour market success of children is related to that of their parents is examined. The rich countries differ significantly in the extent to which parental economic status is related to the labour market success of children in adulthood. The strength of these associations should not be interpreted as offering a target or menu for the conduct of policy. A framework for understanding the underlying causal process as well as the conception of equality of opportunity is reviewed as a guide for public policy.

Last updated: 
Monday, 15 October 2007