[Excerpt] Economic mobility has not been widely studied in developing countries until very recently owing to the lack of suitable data. Studying mobility requires longitudinal data tracking economic units (that is, individuals, households, or firms) over time. Collecting this type of data is expensive, and historically few Latin American countries carried it out. Now, however, such data sets are available for a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries; table A-1 in the appendix provides a list of available panel data sets that can be used for income mobility studies for these countries. In this paper, we discuss how the knowledge gleaned from mobility studies differs from comparable cross-sectional analysis.
The structure of the paper is as follows. The next section discusses what mobility is, how it can be measured, and how it differs from inequality. The subsequent section reviews previous mobility studies in Latin American countries. The paper then summarizes the contributions of our own recent work, and the final section discusses what lies ahead in mobility research for Latin American economies.