Presenter: Florian Hertel (University of Hamburg)

When: Thursday 24th November, 13.00-14.30.

Where: Seminar Room 3, Badia Fieosolana.

Abstract: Over the last three decades, inequality has been on the rise in most countries in the world. Media outlets, politicians and public intellectuals from either end of the political spectrum frequently criticize this development because it prevents the establishement of equal opportunities. While we do have a good knowledge of how inequality affects intergenerational mobility strategies, we know surprisingly little about the extent to which inequality actually constrains overall mobility chances. While economists found a strong correlation between inequality and intergenerational income elasticities (“The Great Gatsby Curve”), results from sociological research that studies several inequality dimensions and applies a multitude of stratification schemes finds only limited evidence for the negative relation between inequality and mobility chances. In our presentation, we use a novel conceptualization of inequality (between-class-inequality) and study the relation between up to three inequality dimensions (education, earnings, HH-incomes) and relative mobility chances in 35 to 51 countries. From three distinct analysis, we conclude that

a)      the level of inequality is highly correlated with intergenerational mobility chances;
b)      between class inequality in economic and cultural capital is a good representation of how social class stratifies mobility chances;
c)       inequality effectively protects higher-class families from downward mobility instead of constraining upward mobility;
The presentation closes with a brief discussion of potential normative-political conclusions, which might be drawn from our analysis.

Please be advised: We will show descriptive material that uses large brushes to paint a picture for 35 to 51 countries in the world between the years 1999 and 2015. The research design is a classical macro-to-macro analysis. Neither do we aspire (at this point) nor do we want to make a causal analysis on the individual level. There is a huge literature that shows how class differences stratify individual educational attainment, the school-to-work transition and career mobility chances to accept these as given under-lying mechanism that produces the very outcome we observe and that we relate to inequality.