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Intergenerational top income mobility in Sweden: Capitalist dynasties in the land of equal opportunity?

  • Björklund, Anders

    ()

    (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)

  • Roine, Jesper

    (SITE, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Waldenström, Daniel

    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

This paper presents new evidence on intergenerational mobility in the top of the income and earnings distribution. Using a large dataset of matched father-son pairs in Sweden, we find that intergenerational transmission is very strong in the top, more so for income than for earnings. In the extreme top (top 0.1 percent) income transmission is remarkable with an IG elasticity above 0.9. We also study potential transmission mechanisms and find that sons’ IQ, non-cognitive skills and education are all unlikely channels in explaining this strong transmission. Within the top percentile, increases in fathers’ income are, if anything, negatively associated with these variables. Wealth, on the other hand, has a significantly positive association. Our results suggest that Sweden, known for having relatively high intergenerational mobility in general, is a society where transmission remains strong in the very top of the distribution and that wealth is the most likely channel.

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Paper provided by Swedish Institute for Social Research in its series Working Paper Series with number 9/2010.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 27 Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2010_009
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  1. Miles Corak & Patrizio Piraino, 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 37-68, 01.
  2. 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.
  3. Nathan D. Grawe, 2004. "Reconsidering the Use of Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility as a Test for Credit Constraints," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  4. Lindqvist, Erik & Westman, Roine, 2009. "The Labor Market Returns to Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability: Evidence from the Swedish Enlistment," Working Paper Series 794, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational Top Income Mobility in Sweden: A Combination of Equal Opportunity and Capitalistic Dynasties," IZA Discussion Papers 3801, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Björklund, Anders & Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2008. "Intergenerational Top Income Mobility in Sweden – Capitalist Dynasties in the Land of Equal Opportunity?," Working Paper Series 775, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 27 Sep 2010.
  8. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128, February.
  9. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
  10. Jäntti, Markus & Bratsberg,Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Österbacka, Eva & Björklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor, 2007. "American exceptionalism in a new light : a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 781, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
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  13. Kopczuk, Wojciech & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Top Wealth Shares in the United States, 1916-2000: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 57(2), pages 445-87, June.
  14. Nathan D. Grawe & Casey B. Mulligan, 2002. "Economic Interpretations of Intergenerational Correlations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 45-58, Summer.
  15. Lena Edlund & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2007. "Women, Wealth and Mobility," NBER Working Papers 13162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Bratsberg,Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Jäntti, Markus & Eriksson, Tor & Österbacka, Eva, 2007. "Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility : Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 782, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Miles Corak & Andrew Heisz, 1999. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian Men: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 504-533.
  18. Jesper Roine & Daniel Waldenström, 2009. "Wealth Concentration over the Path of Development: Sweden, 1873-2006," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(1), pages 151-187, 03.
  19. Eric R. Eide & Mark H. Showalter, 1999. "Factors Affecting the Transmission of Earnings across Generations: A Quantile Regression Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 253-267.
  20. Alberto Alesina & Edward Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Why Doesn't the United States Have a European-Style Welfare State?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 187-278.
  21. Roine, Jesper & Waldenström, Daniel, 2006. "The Evolution of Top Incomes in an Egalitarian Society; Sweden, 1903–2004," Working Paper Series 667, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  22. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
  23. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-13, June.
  24. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
  25. Lena Edlund & Wojciech Kopczuk, 2009. "Corrigendum: Women, Wealth, and Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 1082-1082, June.
  26. Ross Finnie & Ian Irvine, 2006. "Mobility and Gender at the Top Tail of the Earnings Distribution," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 37(2), pages 149-173.
  27. Corak, Miles, 2006. "Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults? Lessons from a Cross Country Comparison of Generational Earnings Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 1993, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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