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The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data

  • Anders Björklund
  • Mikael Lindahl
  • Erik Plug

We use unique Swedish data with information on adopted children's biological and adoptive parents to estimate intergenerational mobility associations in earnings and education. We argue that the impact from biological parents captures broad prebirth factors, including genes and prenatal environment, and the impact from adoptive parents represents broad postbirth factors, such as childhood environment. We find that both pre- and postbirth factors contribute to intergenerational earnings and education transmissions, and that prebirth factors are more important for mother's education and less important for father's income. We also find some evidence for a positive interaction effect between postbirth environment and prebirth factors. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/qjec.121.3.999
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 121 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (08)
Pages: 999-1028

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:3:p:999-1028
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  1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance John & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2005. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 1675, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bjorklund, Anders & Chadwick, Laura, 2003. "Intergenerational income mobility in permanent and separated families," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 239-246, August.
  5. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2004. "Intergenerational Effects in Sweden: What Can We Learn from Adoption Data?," IZA Discussion Papers 1194, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Case, Anne & Lin, I-Fen & McLanahan, Sara, 2000. "How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 781-804, October.
  7. 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.
  8. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  9. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2002. "Does Increasing Women's Schooling Raise the Schooling of the Next Generation?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 323-334, March.
  10. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
  11. Lindquist, Matthew J. & Böhlmark, Anders, 2005. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Country, Cohort and Gender Comparisons," Working Paper Series 4/2005, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  12. 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.
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