Social mobility in Europe

Friday, 3 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
TW2.1.04 (Tower Two)
Anna Ludwinek, Eurofound, Dublin, Ireland
Many citizens and governments are concerned that, for the first time in decades, the next generation of adults will end up worse off than today’s generation. This is a widespread concern – relevant not only to those on low incomes but also to middle classes, albeit with rather different characteristics in different Member States. People find it increasingly hard to leave education without great debts, find affordable housing and a job that would allow them to have good standards of living including providing for their children in the way their parents did. Labour markets seem to have become more polarised between high-skilled/high-wage jobs and low-skilled/low-paid work with little prospects of social advancement.

The generation born in the decade or so after the second world benefited from the structural changes in Europe. There was an expansion in the number of professions which allowed for greater intergenerational mobility as there were many new opportunities in post war economies.
Structural change in economy saw white collar jobs replace blue collars and that mean that generation could quicker move into higher class. The current setting is more rigid and has fewer prospects for the social mobility. 

Eurofound (EU Agency) for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions a tripartite agency implements a multiannual project with following research questions: What are the patterns of social mobility in the EU? What are the barriers to social mobility and what are the policy responses to tackle these challenges?  

The research will focus on the investigation of the intergenerational social mobility in European countries.  The project will be guided by theory of “Featherman Jones Hauser” (1975) and its modified version made by Erikson and Godthrope (1992) who argue that the state intervention can make a difference.

A literature review will map different approaches to measuring social mobility in the Member States as well as documenting trends and patterns of social mobility in the EU. In addition literature review will map existing findings and data including on key barriers to social mobility. The role of the social partners will also be explored.

Using the mobility tables EF will provide an updated overview of the class movement using Goldthorpe class scheme in different countries in Europe.

Second part of the data analysis is to, by using the traditional models such as status attainment models and transition table analysis investigate the relationship between the respondent occupation (class) and the effects of respondent own education as well as effect of education and the occupation of both of the parents (separately for mother and father). The aim of the exercise is to see which of the determinants play greater a role in a given country. Data from the waves of the European Social Survey will be used. Finally to systematically examine policies that aim to foster social mobility and to identify the most effective tools for promoting social mobility in depth case studies will be carried out.