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The Economic Impact of Upward and Downward Occupational Mobility: A Comparison of Eight EU Member States

Recent literature agrees that the degree of intergenerational mobility substantially differs across European countries, ranked between the "mobile" Nordic countries and the "immobile" Anglo-Saxon and Southern ones. In this paper we will compare the intergenerational transmission of advantages in 8 European countries using EU-SILC dataset. Considering parental occupations as background variable, our main aims are to assess whether residual returns to background on offspring’s labour incomes persist after controlling for intermediated background-related outcomes (education and occupation) and to disentangle the role played by upward and downward occupational mobility on earnings. Our empirical analyses show that cross-country differences occur in the labour markets rather than in the educational stream. Consistently with previous findings, residual background effects on earnings are not significant in Nordic and Continental countries whereas they appear large in Anglo-Saxon and Southern ones. When the impact of backward and upward mobility is assessed, in all countries but Nordic ones penalties for upgrading emerge mostly in top occupations and are higher in less-mobile countries. These patterns are smoothened but preserved in bottom occupations and robust to different labour income measures.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2010-29.

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Date of creation: Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:1029
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  1. Miles Corak & Andrew Heisz, 1998. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian," Labor and Demography 9808001, EconWPA.
  2. Björklund, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael & Plug, Erik, 2005. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1739, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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