For Better or for Worse, for Nephews or for Nieces? Resource Compensation and Multiplication from Extended Family Members

Jani Erola, Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, Irene Prix & Hannu Lehti


The majority of studies on social and educational mobility neglect the role of the extended family. We argue that this misses important ways in which extended family members may help compensate disadvantage in children’s immediate family or further multiply existing advantage. We examine the role of grandparents’ and aunts and uncles’ resources in Finland and the United States using longitudinal panel data (Finnish Census Panel and the PSID). Our results suggest that aunts and uncles’ resources contribute more than those of grandparents. Moreover, we find evidence for extended family compensation in completing high school and avoiding poverty and similarly for multiplication in college graduation and reaching the highest income decile in both countries.

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