Inherited and spatial disadvantages: A longitudinal study of Early Adult Neighbourhood Careers of Siblings

David J Manley, Maarten van Ham, Lina Hedman

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Understanding how inequalities are transmitted through generations, and restricting upward spatial mobility, has long been a concern of geographic research. Previous research has identified that the neighbourhood in which someone grows up is highly predictive of the type of neighbourhood they live in as independent adults. What remains largely unknown is the relative contribution of geography compared to the contribution of the family context in forming these individual life outcomes. The aim of this paper is to better understand the role of the spatial-temporal contexts of individuals in shaping later life outcomes, by distinguishing between inherited disadvantage (socio-economic position), and spatial disadvantage (the environmental context in which children grow up). We use a sibling design to analyse the neighbourhood careers of adults after they have left the parental home whilst separating out the roles of the family from that of the neighbourhood in determining residential careers. We employ rich Swedish Register data to construct a quasi-experimental family design to analyse residential outcomes for sibling pairs, and contrasting real siblings against a control group of “contextual siblings”. We find that real siblings live more similar lives in terms of neighbourhood experiences during their independent residential career than contextual sibling pairs but that this difference reduces over time. The results show the importance of geography, revealing long lasting stickiness of spatial-temporal contexts of the childhood.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Early online date7 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 May 2020


  • hybrid model
  • intergenerational transmission
  • residential selection
  • siblings


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