Webbläsaren som du använder stöds inte av denna webbplats. Alla versioner av Internet Explorer stöds inte längre, av oss eller Microsoft (läs mer här: * https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/windows/end-of-ie-support).

Var god och använd en modern webbläsare för att ta del av denna webbplats, som t.ex. nyaste versioner av Edge, Chrome, Firefox eller Safari osv.

Elien Dalman portrait

Elien Dalman


Elien Dalman portrait

Patterns of Persistence : Intergenerational mobility and Sweden's social structure 1865-2015


  • Elien Dalman

Summary, in English

In all times, societies have known social hierarchies and boundaries between individuals and groups with distinct social characteristics. The extent to which such hierarchies and boundaries are consequential for life outcomes and persist over time differs between societies. These changes over generations in the social structure, and the social, economical, and institutional developments that shape them, are the topic of this dissertation. I study social mobility – to what extent occupational status in one generation resembles occupational status in the parental generation. I do this in a changing context of educational attainment and welfare state provisions, as Sweden transitioned from an agricultural to an industrial and later service-based economy. Using longitudinal data based on full-count censuses and modern registers, I study cohorts born in Sweden from 1810 until 1985, and parent-child pairs with children born since 1865.

In contrast to mothers in Sweden today, previous generations of women often did not perform formal work outside of the household, or at least not while being a mother to young children. I explicitly situate social stratification and mobility in this context of changing institutions of family and work. I start by studying the changing social structure of men’s and women’s work, different empirical representations thereof, and their relationship to this changing context. I demonstrate how changes in the institutions of family and work imply changes in intergenerational mobility, with mothers becoming more and fathers less important. Before the dual-earner family, the father’s occupational status represents family origin well. Gender continues to shape intergenerational mobility as the same-sex parent affects child status attainment more than the opposite-sex parent. Parental social origins do not act independently but accumulate to shape children’s occupational status attainment.

In two of the papers in this dissertation, I use Swedish pre-industrial social status as reflected by different surname types in conjunction with occupational status to study patterns of persistence in the social structure. I demonstrate that surnames primarily reflect social groups rather than individual lineages. I also show that surname status inequality is very high historically and persists across time, with slow rates of regression to the mean. Surname groups and occupation-based social groups interact to shape patterns of persistence. I demonstrate that, historically, occupational mobility was low for high-status groups, and high for low-status groups, and that these groups converge over time to the mobility levels observed across the population today. I show how mobility patterns differ by social origin also in other ways; historically as well as today, a mother’s occupational status matters more at lower social origins, while a father’s occupational status matters more at higher social origins.


  • Centrum för ekonomisk demografi
  • Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen








Lund University


  • Economic History


  • intergenerational persistence
  • social mobility
  • social stratification
  • social structure
  • gender
  • surname type
  • pre-industrial social strata
  • occupational status
  • social class
  • institutions of family and work
  • institutions for equal opportunities
  • Sweden
  • full-count censuses
  • register data




  • Martin Dribe
  • Björn Eriksson
  • Annika Elwert


  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-91-2
  • ISBN: 978-91-87793-90-5


16 december 2022






  • Jörgen Modalsli (Professor)