Drs. Fabian T. Pfeffer and Martin Hällsten wrote the July 2012 paper "Mobility Regimes and Parental Wealth: The United States, Germany, and Sweden in Comparison". Their working paper appears on the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center (PSC) website.
Their abstract states, "We study the role of parental wealth for children's educational and occupational outcomes across three types of welfare states and outline a theoretical model that assumes parental wealth to impact offspring's attainment through two mechanisms, wealth's purchasing function and its insurance function."
In other words, they studied how parental wealth affects their children's ability to succeed in adulthood (especially with educational attainment and upward social mobility) with regards to being able to provide financially for their offspring and to being able to help them during hard times.
They added, "We argue that welfare states can limit the purchasing function of wealth, for instance by providing free education and generous social benefits, yet none of the welfare states examined here provides a functional equivalent to the insurance against adverse outcomes afforded by parental wealth."
Further, these researchers state, "Our empirical evidence of substantial associations between parental wealth and children's educational success and social mobility in three nations that are marked by large institutional differences is in line with this interpretation and helps us re-examine and extend existing typologies of mobility regimes."
Data for the study was taken from several generations of families in the United States, Germany, and Sweden. They found that the wealth of parents plays an important part as to whether their children succeed or fail in bettering themselves as adults.
And, that wealth, according to the study, is a more important factor than the education, income, and occupations of parents.
Within the Institute for Social Research article "Exceptional upward mobility in the U.S. is a myth, international studies show", Pfeffer states their basic conclusion, “Research shows that it’s really a myth that the U.S. is a land of exceptional social mobility.”
Page two concludes.