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Poverty in Sweden 1991-2007. Change, dynamics, and intergenerational transmission of poverty during economic recession and growth


  • Jonsson, Jan O.

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

  • Mood, Carina

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

  • Bihagen, Erik

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


Summary • Has poverty increased or decreased in Sweden during the last two dec-ades? The answer to this question depends on the definition of poverty. In relative terms poverty has increased due to increasing income differ-ences, but in absolute terms poverty has decreased following increasing real incomes. • Between 5 and 11 per cent of the population ended up in absolute po-verty between 1991 and 2007. The proportions were much higher for those living alone, for young adults, and for immigrants, particularly those newly arrived. • Half of the poor leave poverty already the year after entry. The group of poor therefore is composed to a large extent by those who are long-term poor. For those who have once been poor, the risk is high to return to poverty. • Poverty is strongly associated with economic recession and growth. When the macroeconomic conditions are favourable fewer become poor and the persistence in poverty decreases. • Long-term poverty, defined in absolute terms, has decreased but become more concentrated to those living alone and to immigrants. Among immigrants, persistence is higher than among those born in Sweden. • An individual’s incomes and risk of poverty are associated with the household incomes during childhood. Those who grow up poor have excess risks for ending up poor as adults. The probability of ending up as high-income earners is much higher for those who grew up under such advantaged conditions themselves as compared to others. • Intergenerational income mobility increased between 1995 and 2005, approximately, but whereas inequality of opportunity thus decreased the economic consequences of the income background grew.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonsson, Jan O. & Mood, Carina & Bihagen, Erik, 2011. "Poverty in Sweden 1991-2007. Change, dynamics, and intergenerational transmission of poverty during economic recession and growth," Working Paper Series 10/2011, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2011_010

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028.
    2. 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.
    3. Jäntti, Markus & Bratsberg, Bernt & Røed, Knut & Raaum, Oddbjørn & Naylor, Robin & Österbacka, Eva & Bjørklund, Anders & Eriksson, Tor, 2005. "American exceptionalism in a new light: a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States," Memorandum 34/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    4. Atkinson, Tony & Cantillon, Bea & Marlier, Eric & Nolan, Brian, 2002. "Social Indicators: The EU and Social Inclusion," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199253494, June.
    5. Bernt Bratsberg & Knut Røed & Oddbjørn Raaum & Robin Naylor & Markus Ja¨ntti & Tor Eriksson & Eva O¨sterbacka, 2007. "Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages 72-92, March.
    6. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J., 2011. "Recent Developments in Intergenerational Mobility," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    7. Duncan, Greg J & Gustafsson, Bjorn & Hauser, Richard & Schmauss, Gunther & Messinger, Hans & Muffels, Ruud & Nolan, Brian, 1993. "Poverty Dynamics in Eight Countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 6(3), pages 215-234.
    8. Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Lindquist, Matthew J., 2009. "Family background and income during the rise of the welfare state: Brother correlations in income for Swedish men born 1932-1968," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 671-680, June.
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