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Nature and Nurture in the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Swedish Children and Their Biological and Rearing Parents

  • Björklund Anders

    ()

    (Stockholm University)

  • Jäntti Markus

    ()

    (Abo Akademi University)

  • Solon Gary

    ()

    (Michigan State University)

This study uses an extraordinary Swedish data set to explore the sources of the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status. Merging data from administrative sources and censuses, we investigate the association between sons' and daughters' socioeconomic outcomes and those of their biological and rearing parents. Our analysis focuses on children raised in six different family circumstances: raised by both biological parents, raised by the biological mother without a stepfather, raised by the biological mother with a stepfather, raised by the biological father without a stepmother, raised by the biological father with a stepmother, and raised by two adoptive parents. Relative to the existing literature, the most remarkable feature of our data set is that it contains information on the biological parents even when they are not the rearing parents. We specify a simple additive model of pre-birth (including genetic) and post-birth influences and examine the model's ability to provide a unified account of the intergenerational associations in all six family types. Our results suggest substantial roles for both pre-birth and post-birth factors.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 7 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 1-23

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:7:y:2007:i:2:n:4
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  1. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  2. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  3. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2005. "Does Family Income Matter for Schooling Outcomes? Using Adoptees as a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 879-906, October.
  4. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bjorklund, Anders & Chadwick, Laura, 2003. "Intergenerational income mobility in permanent and separated families," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 239-246, August.
  6. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2005. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1739, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Erik Plug, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Mother's Schooling on Children's Schooling Using a Sample of Adoptees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 358-368, March.
  8. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
  10. Anders Bohlmark & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Replication and Extension for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 879-900, October.
  11. Das, Mitali & Sjogren, Tanja, 2002. "The inter-generational link in income mobility: evidence from adoptions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 55-60, March.
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