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The Scandinavian Fantasy: The Sources of Intergenerational Mobility in Denmark and the US

Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels.

Rasmus Landersø og James J. Heckman, 2016

This paper examines the sources of differences in social mobility between the US and Denmark.

Measured by income mobility, Denmark is a more mobile society, but not when measured by educational mobility.

There are pronounced non‐linearities in income and educational mobility in both countries.

Greater Danish income mobility is largely a consequence of redistributional tax, transfer, and wage compression policies.

While Danish social policies for children produce more favorable cognitive test scores for disadvantaged children, they do not translate into more favorable educational outcomes, partly because of disincentives to acquire education arising from the redistributional policies that increase income mobility.

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