DP16595 Social Mobility in Sweden Before the Welfare State

Author(s): Thor Berger, Per Engzell, Björn Eriksson, Jakob Molinder
Publication Date: October 2021
Keyword(s): intergenerational mobility, Sweden, Welfare state
JEL(s): J61, J62, N33, N34
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16595

We use historical census data to show that Sweden exhibited high levels of intergenerational occupational mobility several decades before the rise of the welfare state. Mobility rates were higher than in other 19th- and 20th-century European countries, closer to those observed in the highly mobile 19th-century United States. We leverage mobility variation across Swedish municipalities to shed light on potential determinants: economic growth and migration are positively correlated with mobility, consistent with the patterns observed across countries.