This paper provides new evidence on the role of the educational system for intergenerational mobility. I evaluate an educational reform, implemented in Sweden in the 1950s, which postponed ability tracking and extended compulsory education from seven to nine years. The reform may have influenced intergenerational mobility by several different mechanisms. First, there is the possibility of a direct effect of extending compulsory education. Second, the age at which ability tracking takes place can be crucial for the educational choice. In particular, the earlier the tracking, the more likely it is that the schooling decision is made by the parents. Third, recognizing that economic well-being is determined by the income of the household, assortative mating plays a major role in the mobility process. I argue that the peer group in which couples form can be affected by the educational system, and evaluate how the reform affects intergenerational mobility through changes in assortative mating. Differences-indifferences estimates and sibling-difference estimates indicate that the reform indeed resulted in a sizeable increase in intergenerational income mobility, and in a lower educational association between children and parents. The reform also contributed to reducing the association in education between an individual’s partner and parents, which I interpret as an effect operating through reform effects on mating patterns.
2006. , 54 p.