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Analysis of Intergenerational Social Mobility in Spain in 2011

mobilitat intergenercional
Comparison of occupation between parents and descendants has traditionally been made using only the male population, thus obscuring women. From INE data for 2011, this article compares the results obtained when taking into account only fathers and sons, fathers and sons/daughters and parents and sons/daughters. The results show that when including women, Spain shows more fluidity or, in other words, greater intergenerational occupational mobility.
Author: duncan c. Edited by Judit G.

The aim of the article is to present the results of research on intergenerational occupational mobility in Spain. The Living Conditions Survey (2011) of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) is the source that allows us to obtain occupational information on parents and children. Comparison of occupation between origin (parents) and destination (children) traditionally has been performed using themale population and consequently obscuring women. The question is how the usual findings of these studies change when we include the female population.
Studies of social mobility are made from two points of view: analyzing absolute mobility (changes in social structure between parents/mothers and sons/daughters) and analyzing relative mobility (changes in access opportunities to a social position).
From the perspective of absolute mobility there have been major changes in Spanish society in recent decades, expressed in an increase in higher occupational classes as a result of the modernization of society, the expansion of services and educational levels. People born between 1951 and 1985 experienced an upward mobility that reached levels above 45%, mainly driven by  women.
The analysis of relative mobility, on the other hand, tries to determine to what extent, given these absolute changes, the chances of reaching a destination depend on social origin, and how these chances change or remain constant over time. Relative mobility takes into account the relative probabilities of reaching a particular destination coming from a particular class origin. If society is open, greater possibilities of movement (fluidity) will be found, whereas if there is much social reproduction and parents strongly influence the position of their children then we will find greater social rigidity (limited movement) instead. The hypothesis of constant fluidity has repeatedly been validated in more developed countries, among them Spain.
In this study we set out to answer the question: to what extent do the results of the analysis of relative mobility in Spain change when we take into account the whole of society, that is, when we  include the female population in both origin and destination? To answer this question we use transition matrix analysis with log-linear models and we contrast three models: 1) Conventional Model: takes into account only fathers and sons and studies their movements between social positions; 2) Expanded Model: the model that takes into account fathers for social origin and sons and daughters for destination; 3) Integrated Dominance Model (our preference): considers that the household is a social unit and both the mother and father influence directly or indirectly the destination of their children, and we consider the dominant social position between them. This position will be the occupational reference class for the comparison with the son’s/daughter’s position.
Considering that this way of processing the information influences the results, we tested the hypothesis of constant fluidity. Figure 1 summarizes findings.

Figure 1. Comparison of Unidiff values ​​between the Integrated dominance model and Conventional model. Source: prepared by the authors based on ECV 2011 (INE).  
Results show that the inclusion of women in mobility patterns changes the usual conclusion that the fluidity is constant over time: a characteristic of the models that consider only males. Thus, Spain shows a greater fluidity, which is not uniform in time, revealing the existence of a new image of reality resulting from the change in our society, deeply influenced by the new role that women have acquired in recent decades.

Sandra Fachelli
Department of Sociology and Organizational Analysis  (Universitat de Barcelona)
Grup de Recerca en Educació i Treball (GRET), Department of Sociology (UAB)
Pedro López-Roldán
Department of Sociology
Centre d’Estudis Sociològics sobre la Vida Quotidiana i el Treball (QUIT)
Institut d’Estudis del Treball (IET)


Fachelli, Sandra; López-Roldán, Pedro. ¿Somos más móviles incluyendo a la mitad invisible? Análisis de la movilidad social intergeneracional en España en 2011. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas. 2015, vol. 150, p. 41-70. doi: 10.5477/cis/reis.150.41.

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