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Climbing the Social Ladder: Does Intergenerational Solidarity matter?

Zhang, Xinmiao and Deguilhem, Thibaud (2022): Climbing the Social Ladder: Does Intergenerational Solidarity matter?

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Abstract

Research on intergenerational transmission of inequality tends to focus on unequal access to wealth as well as human and social capital. Often lost in these discussions is the role of parent-offspring relationships. This study takes a closer look into families and investigates how the heterogeneity in family relationships may affect individual social mobility. We apply the concept of intergenerational solidarity to analyse how family relationships vary in nature. We explore two prominent features - emotional closeness and family obligations. Using World Value Survey microdata from 55 countries, we find that emotional closeness between parents and offspring is positively related to both the possibility and extent of upward occupational mobility. On the other hand, the strength of obligations felt towards family members is negatively associated with upward mobility. The obligations of caring for parents may influence offspring decision making, often hindering opportunities to climb the social ladder.

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