Lessons from Denmark about Inequality and Social Mobility
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.
This paper was presented as the IAB Sponsored Plenary Lecture at the joint EALE/SOLE/AASLE World Conference in June 2020. We thank Rafeh Qureshi for highly competent research assistance. We have drawn on our joint work with Neil Cholli, Sadegh Eshaghnia, Miriam Gensowski, Kristian Karlson, and Rafeh Qureshi. This research was supported in part by: The Rockwool Foundation and The American Bar Foundation. The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the funders, nor of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
James Heckman & Rasmus Landersø, 2021. "Lessons for Americans from Denmark about inequality and social mobility," Labour Economics, .