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

  • Anders Bjorklund
  • Markus Jantti
  • Gary Solon

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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12985.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12985.

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Date of creation: Mar 2007
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Publication status: published as Björklund Anders & Jäntti Markus & Solon Gary, 2007. "Nature and Nurture in the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status: Evidence from Swedish Children and Their Biological and Rearing Parents," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-23, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12985
Note: CH LS ED
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  1. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Bjorklund, Anders & Chadwick, Laura, 2003. "Intergenerational income mobility in permanent and separated families," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 239-246, August.
  7. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. 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.
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