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Essays on the Origins of Human Capital, Crime and Income Inequality
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0252-058X
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This Ph.D. thesis in Economics consists of four self-contained essays investigating the importance of early life environment for long-run outcomes and the consequences of immigration for income inequality.


Multigenerational Effects of the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic on Educational Attainment: Evidence from Sweden uses the 1918-19 influenza pandemic in Sweden as a natural experiment to estimate the effects of a fetal health shock on the children of those who experienced the pandemic as a fetal insult. We find that for women, educational attainment decreases by 3-4 months of schooling and the probability of college attendance drops by 3-5 percentage points if their mothers potentially experienced the Spanish flu as a fetal insult. For men, educational attainment decreases by 4-7 months of schooling, and the probability of college attendance drops by 7-11 percentage points if their fathers were potentially prenatally exposed. We find no mother to son, or father to daughter, transmission of the health shock.


Early Childhood Lead Exposure and Criminal Behavior: Lessons from the Swedish Phase-Out of Leaded Gasoline examines the effect of childhood lead exposure on crime using population based register data. We follow all children in Sweden in the 1972-1974, 1977-1979 and 1982-1984 cohorts for more than twenty years. By exploiting the variation in childhood lead exposure induced by the Swedish phase-out of leaded gasoline, we show that the sharp drop in lead exposure reduced crime by between 7 and 14 percent on average. The impact is largest among children in low-income families. The analysis reveals the existence of a low threshold level below which further reductions of early childhood lead exposure no longer affect crime.


Childhood Exposure to Segregation and Long-Run Criminal Involvement: Evidence from the “Whole of Sweden” Strategy presents quasi-experimental evidence on how exposure to immigrant residential segregation during childhood affects male youths’ criminal behavior. We find evidence that being assigned to a neighborhood with a large share of immigrants increases the probability of being convicted of a drug related crime or sentenced to imprisonment for male youths. A one (within municipality-by-year) standard deviation increase in neighborhood segregation increases the probability of committing these types of crimes by between 11 to 13 percent. This corresponds to about one-fifth of the gap in crime between immigrants and natives for these types of offenses. We do not find significant effects for other types of crimes, such as violent and property crimes. The impacts are concentrated among youths with low educated parents.


Immigration and Income Inequality in Sweden 1980 to 2011 investigates how much of the rising trend in income inequality in Sweden can be attributed to increased immigration.  I find that the compositional effects associated with immigration account for between 2 and 9 percent of the overall increase in income inequality. Further, using the variation in immigrant density across labor market regions, I find that non-Nordic immigration has not had any significant effect on the native wage distribution. I find a negative effect of non-Nordic immigration on native employment. My estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point increase in non-Nordic immigration decreases native employment by 3 to 5 percentage points.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Economics , 2015.
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 92
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-115502ISBN: 978-91-7649-124-9OAI: diva2:804791
Public defence
2015-05-22, Hörsal 3 (B3), Universitetsvägen 10B, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, P2013-0041:1The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation, H2012-0405:1
Available from: 2015-04-14 Created: 2015-03-25 Last updated: 2015-04-28Bibliographically approved

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