Intergenerational Income Mobility in Switzerland

joint with Veronica Grassi, University of St. Gallen | For german: (german)

Our main finding: 

Income Mobility in Switzerland is high, even though educational mobility is low. The reason for this divide could be the strong vocational education and training system.

Child Income is only weakly related to parent income. One measure for intergenerational income mobility, the rank-rank slope is 15. Income mobility is therefore higher than in the US (Chetty et al., 2014) and higher than in Sweden (Heidrich, 2017).


Chilren from families with high-school degree are 5-times more likely to have a high-school degree as well (in Switzerland this is called "Gymnasium")


One reason to explain this high-income / low-education mobility puzzle is the strong vocational and education system (VET) in Switzerland: over 70 percent of children opt for VET. VET comes at low costs for parents and provides several opportunities for further education. In this graph we show that educational tracks that start with VET and add another higher education have a high access rate (many children from poor backgrounds) and a high upmover rate (high probability to move up the ladder). Therefore, there are many children who move up the ladder in those "VET+" tracks.

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