This paper documents the role of parental wealth for children’s educational and occupational outcomes across three types of welfare states: The United States, Germany, and Sweden. We outline a theoretical model that assumes parental wealth to impact offspring’s attainment through two mechanisms, which we label wealth’s purchasing function and its insurance function. While both mechanisms can be hypothesized to depend on institutional contexts, we argue that welfare states can limit the purchasing function of wealth, for instance by providing free education and generous social benefits, yet none of the welfare states examined here provides a functional equivalent to the insurance against adverse outcomes afforded by parental wealth. Our empirical evidence of universal and substantial intergenerational wealth effects in three nations that are marked by large institutional differences is in line with this interpretation and helps us re-examine and extend existing typologies of mobility regimes.
Fabian Pfeffer (University of Michigan)
Date & time:
18 Jun 2012 15:00 pm
External seminars home