Rising Tides Lift Which Boats? Understanding Economic and Family Inequalities Across Generations

Speaker: Deirdre Bloome

University of Michigan

This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series, which will take place online throughout Michaelmas Term 2020.

Abstract: In assessing the extent to which individuals escape childhood disadvantages (or maintain childhood advantages), researchers often study relative mobility across generations (individuals’ movements up or down the income rankings from their parents’ positions). Yet many people experience absolute income gains across generations without upward relative mobility. I will explore the connections between absolute and relative mobility, combining formal analyses with empirical illustrations to address several questions: Are there trade-offs or complementarities between absolute and relative mobility? How do people jointly experience the two? Who floats with the rising tide, and what family dynamics shape these experiences? Results suggest that policies that promote absolute mobility could enhance living standards across generations without increasing equality of opportunity.

The Sociology Seminar Series for Trinity Term is convened by Christopher Barrie, Fangqi Wen and Tobias Ruttenauer. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact