James J. Heckman
Rasmus Landersø

Many American policy analysts point to Denmark as a model welfare state with low levels of income inequality and high levels of income mobility across generations. It has in place many social policies now advocated for adoption in the U.S. Despite generous Danish social policies, family influence on important child outcomes in Denmark is about as strong as it is in the United States. More advantaged families are better able to access, utilize, and influence universally available programs. Purposive sorting by levels of family advantage create neighborhood effects. Powerful forces not easily mitigated by Danish-style welfare state programs operate in both countries.

Publication Type
Working Paper
File Description
First version, January 27, 2021
JEL Codes
H24: Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
H44: Publicly Provided Goods: Mixed Markets
J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
J18: Demographic Economics: Public Policy
social mobility
family influence
power of place