13 Nov @12:30

Education and Social Mobility in Europe and the United States

Speaker(s): Richard Breen

Date: 12:30 on Mon, 13 Nov 2017

Duration: 1.5 hours

Seminar Series: Lunchtime Seminars

Lecture Theatre, Manor Road Building,Manor Road, Oxford, OX1 3UQ

Abstract: I draw on the findings from a forthcoming volume, Education and Social Mobility in Europe and the United States (edited by Richard Breen and Walter Müller) to present some findings about the trends in intergenerational mobility in seven European countries and the United States during the 20th century. I also examine the role of education in social mobility. Among most of the countries we considered, social fluidity (or equality in mobility outcomes between people from different social origins) increased at some times during the 20th century. Furthermore, the expansion of educational provision and its more equal distribution with respect to social origins were important factors behind the increases in social fluidity. But the 20th century divides into two halves: for people born before about 1955, rates of upward mobility were increasing and so was social fluidity. For those born after mid-century, rates of upward mobility have declined and rates of downward mobility have increased. Social fluidity has not declined, but neither has it continued to increase. In some countries education has become more strongly associated with class origins, especially among men.

Richard Breen is Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Nuffield College. Prior to that he was William Graham Sumner Professor of Sociology at Yale, where he also directed the Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course and was departmental chair from 2013 to 2015. He has also held professorships at the European University Institute, Florence, and Queen’s University, Belfast. He works mainly on social stratification and inequality, quantitative methods, and formal models. Recent work includes studies of social mobility in Europe, analyses of long-term trends in educational inequality, and investigations of the relationship between income inequality and education. He has held visiting positions throughout Europe, including, most recently, at the WZB, Berlin, the University of Trento, and SFI, Copenhagen. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Member of both the Royal Irish Academy and Academia Europaea.