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How Important Is the Family? Evidence from Sibling Correlations in Permanent Earnings in the US, Germany and Denmark

SOEPpapers 365, 32 S.

Daniel D. Schnitzlein


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Published in: Journal of Population Economics 27 (2014), 1


This paper is the first to analyze intergenerational economic mobility based on sibling correlations in permanent earnings in Germany and to provide a cross-country comparison of Germany, Denmark, and the US. The main findings are as follows: the importance of family and community background in Germany is higher than in Denmark and comparable to that in the US. This holds true for brothers and sisters. In Denmark 20 percent of the inequality in permanent earnings can be attributed to family and community factors shared by brothers while the corresponding estimates are 43 percent in Germany and 45 percent in the US. For sisters the estimates are 19 percent for Denmark, 39 percent for Germany and 29 percent for the US. This ranking is shown to be robust against alternative approaches.

JEL-Classification: J62
Keywords: Sibling correlations, intergenerational mobility, inequality, REML
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