A new working paper by HCEO Co-director James Heckman and MIP network member Rasmus Landersø looking at intergenerational mobility in Denmark and the U.S. is the subject of recent articles in The Atlantic and the Washington Post. "The Scandinavian Fantasy: The Sources of Intergenerational Mobility in Denmark and the U.S." was published in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The authors found that while Denmark invests much more than the U.S. in child care and education, low-income Danish children are not much more likely to rise on the socioeconomic scale. The gap in social mobility between the two nations is largely a result of Denmark's redistributional tax and transfers. The authors noted that the way we measure income greatly impacts how social mobility is determined. Results also showed that disadvantaged children in Denmark do have more favorable cognitive test scores than their U.S. counterparts.
“There is something here for the Republicans and for the Democrats,” Heckman told The Atlantic.
James Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. In 2000, Heckman shared the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on the microeconometrics of diversity and heterogeneity, and for establishing a sound causal basis for public policy evaluation. Rasmus Landersø is a researcher at the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit.
You can view the working paper here.