IZA DP No. 158: Brother Correlations in Earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden Compared to the United States
published in: Journal of Population Economics, 15 (4), 2002, 757-772
The correlation in economic status among siblings is a useful "omnibus measure" of the overall impact of family and community factors on adult economic status. In this study we compare brother correlations in long-run (permanent) earnings between the United States, on one hand, and the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) on the other. Our base case results, based on very similar sample criteria and definitions for all countries, show that this correlation is above 0.40 in the United States and in the range 0.15-0.28 in the Nordic countries. Even though these results turn out to be somewhat sensitive to some assumptions that have to be made, we conclude that the family and community factors are more important determinants of long-run earnings in the United States than in the Nordic countries.