Per Engzell

Per Engzell


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Works at Swedish institute for social research
Telephone 08-16 32 48
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 F
Room F 954
Postal address Institutet för social forskning 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am a researcher within the LNU/Level-of-Living research group at the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI). My research focuses on intergenerational socioeconomic mobility and its variation across place and time.

I received my PhD from SOFI and the Stockholm University Department in Sociology in 2017. Since then I have been a Postdoctoral Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and more recently at the the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, Oxford.

Find my personal website here.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Thor Berger, Per Engzell. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116 (13), 6045-6050

    A large literature documents how intergenerational mobility-the degree to which (dis)advantage is passed on from parents to children-varies across and within countries. Less is known about the origin or persistence of such differences. We show that US areas populated by descendants to European immigrants have similar levels of income equality and mobility as the countries their forebears came from: highest in areas dominated by descendants to Scandinavian and German immigrants, lower in places with French or Italian heritage, and lower still in areas with British roots. Similar variation in mobility is found for the black population and when analyzing causal place effects, suggesting that mobility differences arise at the community level and extend beyond descendants of European immigrant groups. Our findings indicate that the geography of US opportunity may have deeper historical roots than previously recognized.

  • 2019. Per Engzell, Felix C. Tropf. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116 (51), 25386-25388

    As an indicator of educational opportunity, social scientists have studied intergenerational mobility-the degree to which children's attainment depends on that of their parents-and how it varies across place or time. We combine this research with behavior genetics to show that societal variation in mobility is rooted in family advantages that siblings share over and above genetic transmission. In societies with high intergenerational mobility, less variance in educational attainment is attributable to the shared sibling environment. Variance due to genetic factors is largely constant, but its share as a part of total variance, heritability, rises with mobility. Our results suggest that environmental differences underlie variation in intergenerational mobility, and that there is no tension between egalitarian policies and the realization of individual genetic potential.

  • 2019. Per Engzell. Sociology of education 92 (1), 83-103

    Why is it that children of immigrants often outdo their ethnic majority peers in educational aspirations yet struggle to keep pace with their achievements? This article advances the explanation that many immigrant communities, while positively selected on education, still have moderate absolute levels of schooling. Therefore, parents’ education may imbue children with high expectations but not always the means to fulfill them. Swedish data on children of immigrants from over 100 countries of origin support this view: Net of parents’ absolute years of schooling, a high rank in the sending country benefits children’s aspirations, attitudes, and educational choices but not their test scores or school grades. The upshot is an ‘‘aspiration squeeze’’ where to emulate their parents’ relative place in the education distribution, children are left struggling against the momentous tide of educational expansion.

Show all publications by Per Engzell at Stockholm University

Last updated: April 6, 2020

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