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American exceptionalism in a new light: a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States

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Author Info

  • Jäntti, Markus

    ()
    (Department of Economics and Statistics, Ã…bo Akademi University, Finland.)

  • Bratsberg, Bernt

    ()
    (The Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research)

  • Røed, Knut

    ()
    (The Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Researc)

  • Raaum, Oddbjørn

    ()
    (The Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Researc)

  • Naylor, Robin

    ()
    (University of Warwick, Economics Department)

  • Österbacka, Eva

    ()
    (Ã…bo Akademi University,Department of Economics and Statistics)

  • Bjørklund, Anders

    ()
    (Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University)

  • Eriksson, Tor

    ()
    (Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics)

Abstract

We develop methods and employ similar sample restrictions to analyse differences in intergenerational earnings mobility across the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. We examine earnings mobility among pairs of fathers and sons as well as fathers and daughters using both mobility matrices and regression and correlation coefficients. Our results suggest that all countries exhibit substantial earnings persistence across generations, but with statistically significant differences across countries. Mobility is lower in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is lower again compared to the Nordic countries. Persistence is greatest in the tails of the distributions and tends to be particularly high in the upper tails: though in the U.S. this is reversed with a particularly high likelihood that sons of the poorest fathers will remain in the lowest earnings quintile. This is a challenge to the popular notion of ’American exceptionalism’. The U.S. also differs from the Nordic countries in its very low likelihood that sons of the highest earners will show downward ’long-distance’ mobility into the lowest earnings quintile. In this, the U.K. is more similar to the U.S..

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 34/2005.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 25 Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2005_034

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
Phone: 22 85 51 27
Fax: 22 85 50 35
Email:
Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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Keywords: Intergenerational mobility; earnings inequality; long-run earnings;

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References

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