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Abstract:

CEE/Education and Skills Programme Discussion Paper
Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating: Effects of an Educational Reform
Helena Holmlund
November 2008
Paper No' CEEDP0091:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I2; J12; J62


Tags: intergenerational mobility; education; assortative mating

This paper provides new evidence on the role of the educational system for intergenerational mobility. I evaluate an educational reform, implemented in Sweden in the 1950s and 60s, which postponed tracking and extended compulsory education from seven to nine years. The reform may have influenced intergenerational mobility through several different channels. First, it is likely that the reform increased education more for children from low educated households, compared to those children with more educated parents. Second, postponing tracking to higher ages is likely to reduce the parental influence in the educational choice, which may weaken the intergenerational economic link between children and their parents. And finally, recognizing that economic well-being is determined by the income of the household, and that assortative mating plays a major role in the mobility process, I examine how the reform has affected mobility through changes in marital sorting. The underlying hypothesis is that the peer group in which couples form can be affected by the educational system. Differences-in-differences estimates and sibling-difference estimates indicate that the reform indeed resulted in a sizeable increase in intergenerational income mobility, but effects operating through marital sorting seem to play a minor role.