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Intergenerational Social Mobility

Listed author(s):
  • Orsetta Causa


  • Åsa Johansson


This paper assesses recent patterns in intergenerational social mobility across OECD countries and examines the role that public policies can play in affecting such mobility. It shows that the relationship between parental or socio-economic background and offspring’s educational and wage outcomes is positive and significant in practically all countries for which evidence is available. Intergenerational social mobility is measured by several different indicators since no single indicator provides a complete picture. However, one pattern that emerges is of a group of countries, e.g. southern European countries and Luxembourg, which appears to rank as relatively immobile on most indicators, while another group, e.g. Nordics, is found to be more mobile. Furthermore, public policies such as education and early childcare play a role in explaining observed differences in intergenerational social mobility across countries. In addition, this study also finds a positive cross-country correlation between intergenerational social mobility and redistributive policies. Mobilité sociale intergénérationnelle Cet article examine les tendances récentes de la mobilité sociale intergénérationnelle dans les pays de l’OCDE et analyse rôle joué dans ce contexte par les politiques publiques. On observe, dans la quasitotalité des pays pour lesquels les données sont disponibles, une relation positive et significative entre l’origine sociale et familiale et le niveau d’éducation et/ou de salaire d’un individu. La mobilité sociale intergénérationnelle est ici mesurée au travers d’une batterie d’indicateurs, parce qu’il n’existe pas d’indicateur unique permettant d’apprécier les phénomènes de persistance entre générations. Néanmoins l’analyse met clairement en évidence l’existence de deux groupes de pays: d’un coté les pays du Sud de l’Europe et le Luxembourg, où l’on mesure une faiblesse relative de la mobilité sociale intergénérationnelle, et ce quel que soit l’indicateur utilisé, et de l’autre les pays Nordiques, où l’on mesure une réalité inverse. De plus, l’article montre que certaines politiques, telles que les politiques éducatives et scolaires ou les politiques liées à la petite enfance, peuvent affecter la mobilité sociale entre générations. L’analyse empirique met également en évidence une association positive entre les politiques de redistribution du revenu et la mobilité sociale intergénérationnelle.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 707.

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Date of creation: 07 Jul 2009
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:707-en
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