What influences people’s social position most: their family background or their skills?

Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Universidade Pompeu Fabra
Jorge Cimentada, Max Planck Institute of Demographic Research

In all advanced democracies, the children of parents with higher education levels have more probabilities of reaching high social positions, regardless of their skills. However, people who have a high level of skills enjoy better life prospects, even if they originate from less favourable family backgrounds.
Key points
  • 1
       The relative influence of family background and skills – cognitive and non-cognitive – on social mobility is analysed across 21 advanced democracies.
  • 2
       In general, the children of people with higher education levels have greater probabilities than others of attaining a better social position. Furthermore, they are better protected against descending to the working class, even if they have a relatively low level of skills.
  • 3
       People who come from less educated families but who have greater skills have more opportunities for rising up the social ladder.
  • 4
       In Italy and Spain, the effect of social origin on the destination position is very marked. The least privileged have very few probabilities of rising up the social ladder, and those of privileged origin have few probabilities of descending.

Em todos os países, os filhos de pais com ensino superior são mais propensos a acabar em posições sociais mais elevadas do que aqueles cujos pais não têm este nível de formação. Contudo, existem diferenças importantes entre os países. Nos países nórdicos, no Canadá ou nos Países Baixos, esta vantagem é relativamente pequena. Em contrapartida, em países como Espanha ou Itália, a influência da família de origem na mobilidade social é muito mais acentuada, e as diferenças nas oportunidades de mobilidade, tanto dos filhos de pais com alto nível de formação e como dos filhos com baixo nível de formação, são muito grandes.

Classification

Authors

Gøsta Esping-Andersen , Universidade Pompeu Fabra
Jorge Cimentada , Max Planck Institute of Demographic Research

Tags

Subject areas

Related content

Article

Are immigrants more ambitious than their non-migrant compatriots?

Does emigration always bring with it a dose of ambition? We analyse whether immigrants are more oriented toward success, risk, and money than their non-migrant compatriots.

Article

The evolution of the economy and the rejection of immigration in Europe

Behind rejection of the other, and xenophobia, lie factors such as the country’s macroeconomic evolution, individual economic vulnerability and worker exposure to job competition.

Article

Participate or win? Women, men and competitiveness

Are women worse at competing? This article shows that factors exist, of a cultural nature, that can explain part of the discrimination that women suffer in the jobs market.

Article

Does unemployment harm mental health?

Stress, depression, insomnia, tension, feeling of uselessness… This article analyses how the mental health of workers was affected by the economic crisis and long-term unemployment.

Article

Is there a motherhood penalty affecting promotion at work? The hidden costs of flexible working hours

Are mothers at a disadvantage when being considered for promotion at work? This study shows that they are not, providing that they have not taken options such as flexible or reduced working hours or teleworking.

You may also find interesting

Article

Mental health outcomes in Portuguese SARS-CoV-2 survivors and the general population during the covid-19 pandemic

Mental health outcomes in Portuguese SARS-CoV-2 survivors and the general population during the covid-19 pandemic

Social Inclusion

This study explored mental health outcomes in 640 Portuguese adults from three different groups (SARS-CoV-2 survivors, individuals who were tested but had negative results, and individuals who were never tested).

Article

An experimental examination of attentional bias in medical care during the covid-19 pandemic

An experimental examination of attentional bias in medical care during the covid-19 pandemic

Social Inclusion

In many countries, the incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates of the covid-19 virus have disproportionately affected non-white people, but there is a lack of published data explaining this phenomenon. Are admissions to intensive care units proportional among white and black people? Are physicians more likely to, unknowingly, pay more attention to white patients and therefore be more likely to offer them life-saving intensive care treatment?

Article

Perceptions of Portuguese teachers, health professionals and older adults about covid-19 vaccination

Perceptions of Portuguese teachers, health professionals and older adults about covid-19 vaccination

Social Inclusion

This study aims to identify and evaluate the main perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge about Covid-19 vaccination of three at-risk groups: teachers, health professionals and older adults.