The Intergenerational Mobility of White Working Class Boys: A Quantitative Analysis

Harminder Battu, Yu Aoki, Patricio Valdivieso Massa

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

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This study examines the relative intergenerational economic mobility of British white working class boys using data provided by the Understanding Society Survey from 2009 to 2014 for the UK. We measure intergenerational mobility using the Hope-Goldthorpe occupational scale and capture mobility via descriptive data, mobility matrices and by estimating coefficients for intergenerational mobility. We find that white working class boys perform the poorest in terms of educational attainment with a quarter having no qualifications and the lowest proportion of 17% having the highest qualifications. We also find that white working class boys outperform the ethnic working class in terms of income and this we refer to as the "white working class paradox". Through a set of mobility matrices, we find an overall intergenerational persistence rate of just under 28% with considerably higher persistence for those whose fathers were in managerial and professional occupations. Upward mobility dominates downward mobility so that the share in the higher ranked occupations becomes higher over time. White working class boys have the lowest upward mobility (33%) and the second highest downward mobility (41%) relative to the average male. Ethnic working class boys exhibit the lowest persistence among all groups but their greater mobility is likely to be downward (20%). Our regression estimates do indicate overall upward mobility in the sample with the non-working class groups displaying higher upward social mobility with the worst performing group being the ethnic working class and not the white working class. Both parental background and educational qualifications boost upward mobility although these effects are higher for the non-working class.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen: Business School
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019

Publication series

NameDiscussion Papers in Economics and Finance
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen Business School
ISSN (Print)0143-4543


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