Mads Meier Jæger – University of Copenhagen

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Mads Meier Jæger

"Historical Context and Multigenerational Socioeconomic Attainment"


We present a theoretical model that explicates the ways in which historical context affects socioeconomic attainment across three generations. In this model the historical context (economic, social, and cultural) in which the first generation spent its formative years affects the attainment of this generation and that of later generation via the attainment of the first generation (indirect effect) and via institutions that persist over time (direct effect). We test the model using data on the socioeconomic attainment of three generations from Wisconsin and historical data on the counties in which these generations lived. We find that exposure to favorable conditions during one’s formative years, for example a higher level of industrialization and a stronger presence of industrious immigrant or religious groups, leads to higher socioeconomic attainment in the first generation. Moreover, historical context also affects the attainment of the second and the third generation via the attainment of the first generation and via persisting institutions.

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