March 2017 (Revised November 2017)

On Intergenerational Immobility: Evidence that Adult Credit Health Reflects the Childhood Environment

Sarena Goodman, Alice Henriques, and Alvaro Mezza


Using a novel dataset that links socioeconomic background to future credit, postsecondary education, and federal student loan and grant records, we document that, even though it is not and cannot be used by credit agencies in assigning risk, background is a strong predictor of adult credit health. A relationship remains upon inclusion of achievement, attainment, and debt management metrics. These findings reveal a new dimension along which childhood circumstances persist into adulthood and imply that the many important contexts in which credit scores are relied upon to evaluate individuals (e.g., lending, insurance, employment) may be helping to preserve inherited inequities.

Accessible materials (.zip)

Original paper: PDF | Accessible materials (.zip)

Keywords: Credit Health, Credit Scores, Intergenerational Immobility, Socioeconomic Status, Student Loans


PDF: Full Paper

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Last Update: January 09, 2020