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intergenerational
mobility: methods of
analysis

Ruud Luijkx

This entry comprises an analysis of interge
nerational mobility, and in particular mobility
tables, in which parents and childrens
positions are cross classified. These positions

can refer to the level of educational achievement,
earnings, occupational position, religious denomi
nation, social class, and so on. Intergenerational
class mobility (social mobility) involves the class
of the family in which respondents lived when
young (the origin class), and their current class
position (the destination class).
The analysis of social mobility has a long
tradition within sociology and largely evolved
within the context of the International Socio
logical Associations Research Committee 28 on
Social Stratification and Mobility. Elaborate
overviews of the results of the different gen
erations of social mobility research have been
published (Ganzeboom et al. 1991; Treiman &
Ganzeboom 2000; Breen & Jonsson 2005).

DISTINGUISHING SOCIAL CLASSES

Usually, the origin class in an intergenerational
mobility table is related to the occupational
position fathers held when respondents were
between 12 and 16 years of age, and the desti
nation class is related to the current occupa
tional position of respondents, although
sometimes destination refers to the first occu
pation held. A typical age selection for respon
dents is between 25 and 64 years of age. How
many categories do the origin and destination
class have? Looking at the history of social
mobility analysis, a whole range of social class
variables has been used. Very crude classifica
tions that only distinguished farm, manual, and
non manual occupations were used in early
analyses (see, e.g., Lipset & Zetterberg 1959).
Sometimes, for manual and non manual occu
pations, a further distinction was made into an
upper and a lower category. This five category
classification used to be standard in the United
States and has been used as the basis for further
refinements, leading to a seventeenfold categor
ization (Blau & Duncan 1967; Featherman &
Hauser 1978). Another, now dominant, categor
ization is the Goldthorpe or EG(P) (Erikson,
Goldthorpe, and Portocarero) class schema
(Erikson & Goldthorpe 1992). To construct
these more refined class schemes, detailed occu
pational information and information on the
self employment and supervising status of
people holding the occupational positions is
essential (Ganzeboom & Treiman 1996).