1932

Abstract

The extent and causes of trends and cross-national variation in social class and occupational status mobility have been major topics of sociological research for decades. This topic has acquired renewed salience as inequality in many industrialized countries has increased and as improvements in data and estimation methods have stimulated increased scrutiny of intergenerational earnings or income mobility as well. The more recent focus on earnings or income mobility largely comes from economists, though sociologists and interdisciplinary teams have made increasingly important contributions. Compelling evidence supports the hypothesis that inequality trends are generating trends in absolute earnings mobility. Evidence about the impact of inequality on relative mobility is less clear, partly because within-country relative mobility trends are weak, partly because between-country differences in relative mobility likely have multiple causes, and partly because the rough stability in relative mobility could arise from offsetting forces. Efforts to exploit local variation in inequality and mobility have added important insights, as have studies that focus attention on mechanisms. The question of how inequality affects mobility cannot be answered definitively without a solid understanding of the multiple pathways that link a country's economic and institutional structure to its pattern of social mobility.

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2020-07-30
2024-06-14
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