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Is Social Mobility Really Declining? Intergenerational Class Mobility in Britain in the 1990s and the 2000s

  • Yaojun Li

    ()

  • Fiona Devine

    ()

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    This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on social mobility in contemporary Britain among economists and sociologists. Using the 1991 British Household Panel Survey and the 2005 General Household Survey, we focus on the mobility trajectories of male and female respondents aged 25-59. In terms of absolute mobility, we find somewhat unfavourable trends in upward mobility for men although long-term mobility from the working class into salariat positions is still in evidence. An increase in downward mobility is clearly evident. In relation to women, we find favourable trends in upward mobility and unchanging downward mobility over the fourteen-year time period. With regard to relative mobility, we find signs of greater fluidity in the overall pattern and declining advantages of the higher salariat origin for both men and women. We consider these findings in relation to the public debate on social mobility and the academic response and we note the different preoccupations of participants in the debate. We conclude by suggesting that the interdisciplinary debate between economists and sociologists has been fruitful although a recognition of similarities, and not simply differences in position, pushes knowledge and understanding forward.

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    File URL: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/16/3/4/4.pdf
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    Article provided by Sociological Research Online in its journal Sociological Research Online.

    Volume (Year): 16 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: 4

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    Handle: RePEc:sro:srosro:2011-12-2
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    1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521827607 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Blanden, Jo & Gregg, Paul & Macmillan, Lindsey, 2011. "Intergenerational Persistence in Income and Social Class: The Impact of Within-Group Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 6202, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:ese:iserwp:2005-19 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:ese:iserwp:2008-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Nicoletti Cheti & Ermisch John F, 2008. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Changes across Cohorts in Britain," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-38, January.
    6. Jo Blanden & Alissa Goodman & Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin, 2002. "Changes in Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," CEE Discussion Papers 0026, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
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