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Intergenerational Top Income Mobility in Sweden – Capitalist Dynasties in the Land of Equal Opportunity?

By Jesper Roine (with Anders Björklund and Daniel Waldenström), Working Paper

This paper presents new evidence on intergenerational mobility in the top of the income and earnings distribution. Using a large dataset of matched father-son pairs in Sweden, we find that intergenerational transmission is very strong in the top, more so for income than for earnings. In the extreme top (top 0.1 percent) income transmission is remarkable with an IG elasticity above 0.9. We also study potential transmission mechanisms and find that sons’ IQ, non-cognitive skills and education are all unlikely channels in explaining this strong transmission. Within the top percentile, increases in fathers’ income are, if anything, negatively associated with these variables. Wealth, on the other hand, has a significantly positive association. Our results suggest that Sweden, known for having relatively high intergenerational mobility in general, is a society where transmission remains strong in the very top of the distribution and that wealth is the most likely channel.

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