The Danish colonial project in Greenland during the nineteenth century has been subject to a pola ... Read more
The Danish colonial project in Greenland during the nineteenth century has been subject to a polarizing debate in the current Danish and Greenlandic public sphere. On the one hand, there are observers depicting the colonial administration as a benevolent and socially-inclusive, whereas others regard it as a socially-exclusive regime. Using a newly collected dataset of Protestant mission’s marriage registers from four West Greenlandic towns (Nuuk, Qaqortoq, Qeqertasuaq and Aasiaat) this paper investigates empirically the hypothesis whether Greenlanders experienced an upward intergenerational occupational mobility over the colonial period. The analysis identifies fathers and sons (grooms) occupational attainment to document quantitatively how the structure of the labor market changed over time. We discuss how the colonial labor market became a key ladder for social mobility after the introduction of administrative reforms and a new institutional agenda in the second half of the nineteenth century. We add to the literature by providing further evidence on the link between historical social mobility and the emergence of inclusive institutions in an arctic indigenous society.