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Trends in the Intergenerational Transmission of Cultural and Economic Status

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Research on intergenerational occupational mobility in The Netherlands has shown that the association between the occupational positions of parents and their offspring has decreased over time. This article elaborates on the idea that the occupational stratification includes both a cultural and an economic hierarchy and that the process of intergenerational mobility follows different patterns in these two dimensions. The main hypothesis is that the intergenerational transmission of cultural status is related more strongly to the indirect channel, via educational attainment, than the transmission of economic status, and that the equalization of educational opportunities has especially affected the cultural transmission of social status. Data from The Netherlands' Mobility File are used, and the occupational mobility of 5,921 men and 3,457 women between 35 and 65 years of age is analyzed for cohorts who entered the labor market between 1923 and 1984. The findings are that the direct transmission of both cultural and economic status has virtually disappeared by the end of the observation period, for both men and women. For men, the indirect channel via education has decreased in the cultural dimension but not in the economic dimension. For women, the trends in the total effects of fathers' cultural and economic status are much weaker than those for men, which is caused by an increase of the indirect channel via education in both dimensions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001

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