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Education and Intergenerational Social Mobility in Europe and the United States$
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Richard Breen and Walter Müller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781503610163

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503610163.001.0001

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Sweden, the Middle Way?

Sweden, the Middle Way?

Trends and Patterns in Social Mobility and Educational Inequality

(p.69) Chapter Four Sweden, the Middle Way?
Education and Intergenerational Social Mobility in Europe and the United States

Richard Breen

Jan O. Jonsson

Stanford University Press

Sweden was renowned for attempting a “middle way” between capitalism and socialism, with a market economy combined with ambitious policies for equalizing both opportunities and living conditions. Did this facilitate social mobility, and was equalization of educational attainment the mechanism behind it? We document increasing social mobility during a period of strong growth of higher class occupations, both for men and women, an increase that, however, tends to level off for cohorts born in the mid-1960s. We also verify that most of this development into a more socially open society was due to the equalization of educational outcomes. However, the very substantial growth of upper secondary and tertiary education also contributed, because this expansion meant that more people in younger cohorts received higher education where, in Sweden, the importance of social origin for class destinations is considerably weaker than at lower levels of education.

Keywords:   Sweden, the middle way, social mobility, intergenerational class mobility, educational expansion, educational inequality

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