The Life Course Variation of Sibling Correlations According to Class and Education

33 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012

Date Written: August 22, 2012


How does the influence of family background vary over the life course? This question is studied through sibling correlations using Finnish Census based register data, including information on 57,050 children born 1956-1970. The applied data includes information on the education (as levels and years in education) and occupational status (as EGP-classes and ISEI scores) of the siblings, measured twice between the ages of 20-29, 25-34, 30-39 and 35-44 during the period 1970-2005. Children are matched according to the education and class their parents belonged to when the siblings were 10-14 years old. According to the results, the family background effect does not change much over the life course. The variations in education and occupational standing increase both at the family and individual level, as the siblings grow older. Also, there was no socioeconomic background bias due to parents treating their children differently. The correlations are the highest when education is measured as levels (~0.5); it remains at the level of 0.3 for other dependent variables. However, the proportion of the variation explained by the observed parental characteristics is about the same for each type of status measurement. This suggests that the estimates for the total family background effect across the different types of socioeconomic measurements are not directly comparable even when applying sibling correlations.

Keywords: family background, siblings, occupational class, education, inheritance, life course

JEL Classification: I20, J62

Suggested Citation

Erola, Jani, The Life Course Variation of Sibling Correlations According to Class and Education (August 22, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Jani Erola (Contact Author)

University of Turku ( email )

Turku, 20014
+35823335383 (Phone)


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