The primary objectives of this project are to enhance our knowledge about the determinants of intergenerational mobility, to characterize recent changes in mobility and the causes behind them, and to assess the influence of institutions and policies in the shaping of equality of opportunities.
Below, we present a summary of some of the first publications funded by the project:
In the paper “Trends in assortative mating and offspring outcomes”, Bernt Bratsberg, Simen Markussen, Oddbjørn Raaum, Knut Røed, and Ole Røgeberg examine the influence of parental sorting on social mobility. Sorting into parental matches is central for the intergenerational transmission of human capital, and recent studies finding increased assortative mating among the less educated suggest that inequality in parental resources is growing. We study assortative mating of Norwegian parents over five decades and its consequences for offspring outcomes. Parents are characterized by the earnings rank of their parents (the offspring’s grandparents) as an indicator of social class. While assortative mating has remained stable across decades, parenthood has become more skewed toward the higher social classes. Examining the influence of parental matches on offspring education and employment, we find that the marginal effect of one parent’s class is smaller the higher is the class of the other. Overall, mating trends have contributed to slight improvements in average education and employment and reduced inequality in the offspring generation. The paper is published in Economic Journal.
The paper “The intergenerational transmission of social advantage and disadvantage: comprehensive evidence on the association of parents’ and children’s educational attainments, class, earnings, and status” is written by Arne Mastekaasa and Gunn E. Birkelund. It provides evidence on the associations between four parental origin measures – class, status, earnings and education – and the corresponding outcomes of offspring. It also extends previous research on differences in parental background influences at different levels of the children’s educational attainment, and compare the predictive power of the social origin measures with regard to children’s top and bottom achievements on all outcomes. The paper uses Norwegian administrative data for nearly 500,000 individuals born between 1961 and 1970. The analyses show that parents’ education is a much stronger predictor for all offspring outcomes than are their social class and status positions – both taken separately and together. Parental education also outperforms parents’ earnings, except when the offspring outcome is also earnings. Thus, parents’ premarket characteristics seem to be more important than their labor market achievements for their children’s outcomes. A second major finding is that the predictive power of social origins is often quite similar for advantaged and disadvantaged outcomes. However, bottom earnings are much less strongly associated with social origins than are top earnings. The paper is published in European Societies.
In the paper “Inntektsulikhet og intergenerasjonell mobilitet” (Income inequality and intergenerational mobility), Simen Markussen and Knut Røed provides a descriptive overview of trends in income inequality and social and economic mobility in Norway. It shows that labor earnings have become increasingly unequally distributed in Norway over the past decades. Among men, inequality has increased quite markedly. Measured at the age of 35–39, we find, for example, that while the average difference in income between two randomly selected men amounted to 40 percent of the average income of all men in the late 1970s, this difference has now (in the latest available data) risen to 60 percent of the average income. Using parental earnings rank as a measure of social/economic background, the paper shows that intergenerational mobility has been relatively stable for cohorts born between the early 1950s and early 1980s. There are indications of somewhat increasing earnings mobility for men and falling mobility for women. At the bottom of the parental earnings distribution, intergenerational mobility has declined for both women and men. In particular, we show that the employment rates of men with parents at the very bottom of the income distribution have declined sharply. An indicator for poor health (early receipt of health-based social security) also shows a stronger connection with social background, particularly at the very bottom of the parental earnings distribution. The paper is published as a book chapter in “Det norske samfunn” (8th edition).
The primary objectives of this project are to enhance our knowledge about the determinants of intergenerational mobility, to characterize recent changes in mobility and the causes behind them, and to assess the influence of institutions and policies in the shaping of equality of opportunities. Equality of opportunities is a widely accepted aim of economic and social policies. It implies that offspring born into poor families have the same chances in life as those born into richer families, and thus that there is high degree of intergenerational mobility. Recent empirical evidence has indicated that intergenerational mobility has come under pressure in Norway, and that people born into the poorest families have fallen behind in terms of employment, earnings, and a range other of quality-of-life indicators. This project examines the sources behind this development, and provides a systematic empirical assessment of the determinants of mobility, both in terms of external influences, such as technological developments, trade and, migration, and in terms of institutional factors, such as the organization of childcare and education, the degree of wage compression, integration policies, and the overall income and wealth inequality.
The project is empirical, and will primarily be based on administrative register data from Norway, covering labor market and educational outcomes for three generations. It has a strong comparative component in that it will compare mobility trends in Norway and Sweden, with the aim of identifying the institutional origins of observed differences. In particular, we are interested in examining whether the Swedish policy of subsidizing the demand for low-skill workers have succeeded in preventing the apparent falling-behind of the lower classes observed in Norway.
The project is inter-disciplinary. It has a strong methodological component, and will seek to assess the various “class concepts” encountered within economics and sociology.