Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

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

43 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2006  

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; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Tor Eriksson

University of Aarhus - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 2006

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.

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

JEL Classification: J62, C23

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=878675

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

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Oddbjørn 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

Åbo 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)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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)

Paper statistics

Downloads
980
Rank
18,137
Abstract Views
7,920