Paradoxes of wealth and class: historical conditions and contemporary configurations (HISTCLASS)
The Norwegian or Nordic «model» is characterized by generous universal welfare provision and small wage inequalities. These egalitarian features do not imply that there is an equal distribution of wealth in the Scandinavian countries, or that the rich do not accumulate large fortunes.
The project starts 1 July 2018
About the project
Previous research indicates that the distribution of wealth is much more unequal in Scandinavia than in other European societies. Moreover the proportion of millionaires is high in Norway, and young Norwegian heirs stand out as especially wealthy in a global perspective. These paradoxical features are the point of departure for the project HISTCLASS. The project raises questions such as: Why is wealth inequality so pronounced in a society that in many respects is comparatively egalitarian? How should one explain such paradoxical features, and what do they mean for the understanding of Scandinavian egalitarianism? Are these paradoxes relatively new, or do today's rich families maintain family dynasties that have persisted over generations? Are dynastic tendencies also found in families with top-level positions in other sectors, such as in the cultural sector, the professions, among civil servants, and in the academic world? To what extent does marriage between people from similar social milieus contribute to accumulation of resources over time?
These questions are addressed on the basis of a combination of historical and more recent datasets. We use data from older censuses and other historical sources, newer administrative population data, as well as a number of data sources on prominent people in various sectors. The Oslo Register Data Class Scheme (ORDC) serves as a point for departure for studying class inequalities. The analyses will detail the level of persistence and change of the stratification structure during the last two hundred years, with a special focus on accumulation of wealth, transmission of wealth over generations, and the production and reproduction of family dynasties at the top of society.
To produce unique sociological evidence on the development of Norwegian structures of stratification through two hundred years, with particular attention to the role of wealth accumulation and processes of intergenerational transmission
To provide knowledge about
1) the changing structure of stratification in Norwegian society over a long period;
2) the accumulation of wealth and its intergenerational impact during the last three decades;
3) change and stability in the recruitment to Norwegian elites through the last three hundred years; and
4) the changing permeability of class boundaries through examining class endogamy and educational homogamy.
The total grant award was for NOK 9 697 000.
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