More than Money: Social Class, Income, and the Intergenerational Persistence of Advantage

Carina Mood

Sociological Science, April 5, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a12



I provide a uniquely comprehensive empirical integration of the sociological and economic approaches to the intergenerational transmission of advantage. I analyze the independent and interactive associations that parental income and social class share with children’s later earnings, using large-scale Swedish register data with matched parent–child records that allow exact and reliable measurement of occupations and incomes. I show that parental class matters at a given income and income matters within a given social class, and the net associations are substantial. Because measurement error is minimal, this result strongly suggests that income and class capture partly different underlying advantages and transmission mechanisms. If including only one of these measures, rather than both, we underestimate intergenerational persistence by around a quarter. The nonlinearity of the income–earnings association is found to be largely a compositional effect capturing the main effect of class.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Carina Mood: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University

Acknowledgements: I have benefited from helpful comments from members of the Level-of-Living team at the Swedish Institute for Social Research, and in particular from detailed comments given by Per Engzell, Robert Erikson, Michael Gähler, Jan O. Jonsson, and Georg Treuter.

  • Citation: Mood, Carina. 2017. “More than Money: Social Class, Income, and the Intergenerational Persistence of Advantage.” Sociological Science 4: 263-287.
  • Received: January 3, 2017
  • Accepted: February 21, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper B. Sørensen, Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a12

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