Economic and social mobility across generations: methods, mechanisms and evidence

Project title

Economic and social mobility across generations: methods, mechanisms and evidence 

Project summary

Two central dimensions of economic inequality are the extent of cross-sectional income differences between individuals and their persistence across generations, as status differences are transmitted from parents to their children. The former has been widely studied and, for example, we know that income inequality has risen in most richer countries since the 1980s. However, much less is still known about differences across countries and over time in intergenerational mobility. 

The broad aim of this project is to enhance our knowledge of intergenerational mobility in income and economic status. In particular, we will contribute with new methodological insights related to the measurement of mobility. We use Swedish data that cover career-long income histories of both parents and their children a data feature that is unique in an international context to examine empirically and theoretically the usefulness of the most popular measures used in mobility research and to provide new methodological insights. As such research is currently lacking, we believe that our studies will have wide-reaching implications for applied research.

We then use these methodological insights to provide new evidence on the extent of mobility across countries and over time using the most recent data. We provide evidence on recent trends in intergenerational mobility in Sweden, and how these trends relate to the evolution of income inequality. We use comparable data for Sweden and Norway to study the development in both these countries and provide explanations to the potential differences. Finally, we will study absolute mobility - whether children as adults attain higher living standards than their parents did. An international research team collaborates with the aim to provide comparable measures of trends in absolute income mobility for eight different countries.

Overall this project is ambitious, novel, and builds on unique data resources and collaborations between strong research groups. 

Project duration


Main applicant

Martin Nybom



Amount received

3,700,000 SEK

Last modified: 2021-03-09