Abstract: This study explored an apparently paradoxical finding in farming and fishing: low economic returns to farming and fishing, but a high rate of occupational transmission across generations of farmers and fishers. Using a sibling model containing 11,924 children of Swedish farmers and fishers in 2012, we estimated that farmers’ sons who became farmers received 28 per cent lower income than same-sex siblings with a career outside farming. For farmers’ daughters and fishers’ sons, the income gap was about 22 per cent relative to same-sex siblings. Thus, the sibling approach confirmed that the returns to farming and fishing are low, and not caused by negative selection into these sectors. Our conclusion was that the decision to become a fisher or a farmer is largely determined by non-pecuniary factors.