Declining Social Mobility? Evidence from five linked Censuses in England and Wales 1971-2011

Sturgis, Patrick and Buscha, Franz (2015) Declining Social Mobility? Evidence from five linked Censuses in England and Wales 1971-2011. NCRM Working Paper. NCRM. (Unpublished)

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In this paper we add to the existing evidence base on recent trends in inter-generational social mobility in England and Wales for cohorts born in the latter part of the twentieth century. We analyse data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study (ONS-LS), which links individual records from the five decennial censuses between 1971 and 2011. The ONS-LS is an excellent data resource for the study of social mobility because it has a very large sample size, excellent population coverage, and low rates of nonresponse and attrition. Additionally, the structure of the study means that the occupations of LS-members’ parents can be observed when they were children and their progress in the labour market followed at regular intervals into middle age. For men the LS shows a trend of declining upward and increasing downward mobility between cohorts born in the late 1950s and late 1970s. For women, the trend is in the opposite direction – increasing upward mobility – although this is only evident when destination state is measured when women were in their thirties. By the time they had reached their forties, the trend toward upward mobility has, if anything, reversed. Counter to prevailing beliefs, our results show no evidence of relative social mobility ‘grinding to a halt’, let alone going into reverse. Indeed, we find a small but significant increase in social class fluidity during this period for both men and women.

Item Type: Working Paper (NCRM Working Paper)
Subjects: 5. Quantitative Data Handling and Data Analysis > 5.7 Longitudinal Data Analysis
Depositing User: NCRM users
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2015 13:50
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 14:00

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