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Social Mobility and the Importance of Networks: Evidence for Britain

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  • Marcenaro Gutierrez, Oscar

    () (University of Malaga)

  • Micklewright, John

    () (University College London)

  • Vignoles, Anna

    () (University of Cambridge)

Abstract

Greater levels of social mobility are widely seen as desirable on grounds of both equity and efficiency. Debate on social mobility in Britain and elsewhere has recently focused on specific factors that might hinder social mobility, including the role of internships and similar employment opportunities that parents can sometimes secure for their children. We address the help that parents give their children in the job market using data from the new age 42 wave of the 1970 British Cohort Study. We consider help given to people from all family backgrounds and not just to graduates and those in higher level occupations who have tended to be the focus in the debate in Britain. Specifically, our data measure whether respondents had ever had help to get a job from (i) parents and (ii) other relatives and friends and the form of that help. We first assess the extent and type of help. We then determine whether people from higher socio-economic status families are more or less likely to have such help and whether the help is associated with higher wages and higher occupations. Our paper provides insight into whether the strong link between parental socio-economic background and the individual's own economic success can be explained in part by the parents assisting their children to get jobs. We find parental help to have a strong social gradient. But we are unable to identify a clear link between any particular type of help – advice, help through contacts etc. – and individuals' wages or occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcenaro Gutierrez, Oscar & Micklewright, John & Vignoles, Anna, 2014. "Social Mobility and the Importance of Networks: Evidence for Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 8380, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8380
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2010. "Intergenerational Persistence in Income and Social Class: The Impact of Within-Group Inequality," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 10/230, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    2. John H. Goldthorpe & Colin Mills, 2008. "Trends in Intergenerational Class Mobility in Modern Britain: Evidence From National Surveys, 1972—2005," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 205(1), pages 83-100, July.
    3. Holzer, Harry J, 1988. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-20, January.
    4. Miles Corak & Patrizio Piraino, 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 37-68, January.
    5. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2013. "Intergenerational persistence in income and social class: the effect of within-group inequality," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(2), pages 541-563, February.
    6. Bingley, Paul & Corak, Miles & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers in Canada and Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 5593, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    8. Linda Datcher Loury, 2006. "Some Contacts Are More Equal than Others: Informal Networks, Job Tenure, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 299-318, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martha Stinson & Christopher Wignall, 2018. "Fathers, Children, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Employers," Working Papers 18-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Raitano Michele & Vona Francesco, 2018. "From the Cradle to the Grave: The Influence of Family Background on the Career Path of Italian Men," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 80(6), pages 1062-1088, December.
    3. Michel Raitano & Francesco Vona, 2018. "Nepotism vs specific skills: the effect of professional liberalization on returns to parental back ground of Italian lawyers," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2018-36, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    family; networks; social mobility; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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