Materfamilias: The beneficial impact of mother’s work on children economic mobility

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The intergenerational influence on social and economic mobility always attracted the interest of
researchers, bringing evidences on that intergenerational mobility correlate positively with the
generation of opportunities and low levels of inequality at the society level. Recent studies pointed
an exclusive focus on the influence of fathers on child’s outcomes, which neglecting the maternal
influence. Nevertheless, studies developing a higher attention to mother’s influence on
intergenerational mobility usually focus only in periods after 1970. The main arguments for not
extending back studies on maternal influence lie on a common belief that mothers would have a
small impact on male breadwinner societies, when it was uncommon for mothers with schoolaged children to work.
This paper studies the maternal influence on child’s social mobility in a period when mother’s
gainfully work was far from being common. I look for a potential beneficial effect of forerunner
mothers, working after motherhood between the end of 1940’s and 1980’s. I use rich
longitudinal data from Southern Sweden with enough income and sociodemographic information
that allows studying intergenerational income mobility in a consistent way.
My findings show that mother’s income did not influence children directly. However, maternal
working status and income similarity to fathers, a proxy to economic autonomy, during late
childhood and adolescence had a substantial effect on upward economic mobility, especially for
daughters. These results suggest that apart from the direct income influence, an active role
model could be fundamental to promote social mobility and to narrow gender disparities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event2021 ISA RC28 Spring Meeting: Accumulation and compensation of inequalities - Turku, Finland
Duration: 2021 Jun 12021 Jun 4


Conference2021 ISA RC28 Spring Meeting

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic History


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