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Intergenerational Mobility in Britain: Evidence from unemployment patterns


  • Donal O'Neill;


  • Olive Sweetman



Several papers have examined the intergenerational transmission of well being by looking at the relationship between parents' and children's income. However, by concentrating on those who are working these studies exclude some of the very poorest in society, the long-term unemployed. In this paper we extend the empirical work on intergenerational welfare in the U.K by looking at the links between fathers' and sons' unemployment histories. Using an approach which takes account of both incidence and intensity of son's unemployment we provide further evidence showing that parental background is an important determinant of a child's future welfare. A son whose father was unemployed 20 years earlier is almost twice as likely to be unemployed as a son whose father was not unemployed. Furthermore this dependency remains significant after controlling for a range of sons characteristics including education, ability and family composition.

Suggested Citation

  • Donal O'Neill; & Olive Sweetman, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain: Evidence from unemployment patterns," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n730997, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  • Handle: RePEc:may:mayecw:n730997

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gottschalk, Peter, 1996. "Is the correlation in welfare participation across generations spurious?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-25, December.
    2. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L & Elias, Peter, 1996. "Modeling Work-related Training and Training Effects Using Count Data Techniques," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 448, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bea Cantillon, 2012. "GINI DP 52: Virtuous Cycles or Vicious Circles? The Need for an EU Agenda on Protection, Social Distribution and Investment," GINI Discussion Papers 52, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    2. Steffen Müller & Regina T. Riphahn & Caroline Schwientek, 2017. "Paternal unemployment during childhood: causal effects on youth worklessness and educational attainment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 213-238.
    3. repec:zbw:rwirep:0375 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Mäder Miriam & Schwientek Caroline & Riphahn Regina T. & Müller Steffen, 2015. "Intergenerational Transmission of Unemployment – Evidence for German Sons," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(4-5), pages 355-375, August.
    5. Thomas Siedler, 2007. "Does Parental Unemployment Cause Right-Wing Extremism?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 666, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Nicolas Hérault & Guyonne Kalb, 2016. "Intergenerational correlation of labor market outcomes," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 231-249, March.
    7. Cecil Mlatsheni & Sandrine Rospabé, 2002. "An Analysis of the Spatial Distribution of the Clothing and Textile Industry in SADC," Working Papers 02065, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    8. Colm Harmon, 2002. "Schooling returns, schooling decisions and educational finance," Open Access publications 10197/669, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    9. Han, Song & Mulligan, Casey B, 2001. "Human Capital, Heterogeneity and Estimated Degrees of Intergenerational Mobility," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(470), pages 207-243, April.
    10. Michael Kind & John P. Haisken-DeNew, 2012. "Sons' Unexpected Long Term Scarring Due to Fathers' Unemployment," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2012n21, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    11. Michael Kind & John P. Haisken-DeNew, 2012. "Sons‘ Unexpected Long Term Scarring due to Fathers‘ Unemployment," Ruhr Economic Papers 0375, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    12. Dongxu Wu & Zhongmin Wu, 2015. "Intergenerational links, gender differences, and determinants of self-employment," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 42(3), pages 400-414, August.
    13. Olivier Pintelon & Bea Cantillon & Karel Van den Bosch & Christopher T. Whelan, 2011. "The Social Stratification of Social Risks: Class and Responsibility in the 'New' Welfare State," Working Papers 201123, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    14. Corak, Miles & Gustafsson, Björn Anders & Österberg, Torun, 2000. "Intergenerational Influences on the Receipt of Unemployment Insurance in Canada and Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 184, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Wouter Zwysen, 2015. "The effects of father’s worklessness on young adults in the UK," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-15, December.
    16. Gabriella Berloffa & Eleonora Matteazzi & Paola Villa, 2016. "Family background and youth labour market outcomes across Europe," Working Papers 393, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    17. Ekhaugen, Tyra, 2005. "Extracting the causal component from the intergenerational correlation in unemployment," Memorandum 21/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    18. Tyra Ekhaugen, 2009. "Extracting the causal component from the intergenerational correlation in unemployment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(1), pages 97-113, January.
    19. Lindsey Macmillan, 2013. "The role of non-cognitive and cognitive skills, behavioural and educational outcomes in accounting for the intergenerational transmission of worklessness," DoQSS Working Papers 13-01, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    20. Olivier Pintelon & Bea Cantillon & Karel Van den Bosch & Christopher T. Whelan, 2011. "The Social Stratification of Social Risks," Working Papers 1104, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    21. Kleverbeck, Maria & Kind, Michael, 2015. "Does parental unemployment affect the quality of their children's first job?," Ruhr Economic Papers 596, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    22. Anna Christina D'Addio, 2007. "Intergenerational Transmission of Disadvantage: Mobility or Immobility Across Generations?," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
    23. Zwysen, Wouter, 2013. "Where you go depends on where you come from: the influence of father’s employment status on young adult’s labour market experiences," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-24, Institute for Social and Economic Research.

    More about this item


    wealth; unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity


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