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http://ssrn.com/abstract=878675
 
 

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American Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States


Markus Jantti


Abo Akademi University

Bernt Bratsberg


Kansas State University - Department of Economics; University of Oslo - Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research

Knut Roed


Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Oddbjorn Raaum


University of Oslo - Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research

Robin Naylor


University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Eva Osterbacka


Åbo Akademi University

Anders Bjorklund


Stockholm University; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Tor Eriksson


University of Aarhus - Department of Economics

January 2006

IZA Discussion Paper No. 1938

Abstract:     
We develop methods and employ similar sample restrictions to analyze differences in intergenerational earnings mobility across the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. We examine earnings mobility among pairs of fathers and sons as well as fathers and daughters using both mobility matrices and regression and correlation coefficients. Our results suggest that all countries exhibit substantial earnings persistence across generations, but with statistically significant differences across countries. Mobility is lower in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is lower again compared to the Nordic countries. Persistence is greatest in the tails of the distributions and tends to be particularly high in the upper tails: though in the U.S. this is reversed with a particularly high likelihood that sons of the poorest fathers will remain in the lowest earnings quintile. This is a challenge to the popular notion of "American exceptionalism." The U.S. also differs from the Nordic countries in its very low likelihood that sons of the highest earners will show downward "long-distance" mobility into the lowest earnings quintile. In this, the U.K. is more similar to the U.S.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: intergenerational mobility, earnings inequality, long-run earnings

JEL Classification: J62, C23

working papers series


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Date posted: January 30, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Jantti, Markus and Bratsberg, Bernt and Roed, Knut and Raaum, Oddbjorn and Naylor, Robin and Osterbacka, Eva and Bjorklund, Anders and Eriksson, Tor, American Exceptionalism in a New Light: A Comparison of Intergenerational Earnings Mobility in the Nordic Countries, the United Kingdom and the United States (January 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1938. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=878675

Contact Information

Markus Jantti (Contact Author)
Abo Akademi University ( email )
Domkyrkotorget 3
FI-20500 TURKU
Finland
HOME PAGE: http://www.abo.fi/~mjantti/
Bernt Bratsberg
Kansas State University - Department of Economics ( email )
Manhattan, KS 66502-4001
United States
University of Oslo - Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research
Gaustadalleen 21
N-0349 Oslo
Norway
Knut RØED
Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research ( email )
Gaustadalleen 21
N-0349 Oslo
Norway
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
Oddbjorn Raaum
University of Oslo - Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research ( email )
Gaustadalleen 21
N-0317 Oslo
Norway
Robin A. Naylor
University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )
Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
Eva Osterbacka
Abo Akademi University
Piispankatu 16
Abo, Turku FIN-20500
Finland
Anders Bjorklund
Stockholm University ( email )
Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)
S-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden
+46 8 163452 (Phone)
+46 8 154670 (Fax)
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany
Tor Eriksson
University of Aarhus - Department of Economics ( email )
Fuglesangs Allé 4
Aarhus, 8210
Denmark
45 87164978 (Phone)
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