Intergenerational transmissions session abstracts

Tuesday 10 September, 1.30pm

Social mobility over three generations in the UK
Tak Wing Chan, University of Oxford

In a previous paper, Chan and Boliver (2013) use data from three British birth cohort studies (NSHD, NCDS and BCS) to examine the patterns of social mobility over three generations of family members, and report a significant and strong grandparents’ effect on both absolute and relative mobility rates. In this paper, I use data from the BHPS to explore further the grandparents’ effect in social mobility. I try to replicate previous results with BHPS data. Further, I exploit the richer data in the BHPS in order to explore the channels through which the grandparents’ effect operates. The grandparents’ effect in social mobility persists even when parents' education, income and wealth are taken into account.

Intergenerational wealth inequality and dependency across seven OECD countries
Agnese Vitali, Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Bocconi University; Arnstein Aassve, Carlo F. Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics, Bocconi University; Frank F. Furstenberg, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

The distribution of income and wealth across age groups is changing in many countries. Young people today are more likely to experience financial difficulties as compared to young people in the past. The elderly, on the other hand, live longer and are wealthier than they used to be. This paper studies the distribution of wealth across age groups in seven OECD countries (United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Japan) using harmonized micro-level data from the Luxembourg Wealth Study Database. We employ ordered logistic regressions to compute predicted probabilities of being in a given quintile of the distribution of net worth by age of householder, and we estimate the timing of wealth accumulation among young adults using polynomial regressions. Our findings show that in all countries the distribution of wealth is concentrated among the older age groups. This means that the older age groups have command of a disproportionate share the economic resources, compared to young adults. In many countries, the majority of young people aged less than 35 negative (i.e. debts) or no wealth. Italy and Japan represent the only two exceptions in that young people are wealthier than peers in other countries. We discuss the implications of concentration of wealth among the older segments of the population and difficulties of acquiring wealth among the young, an urgent topic for governments trying the balance support of the elderly while providing sufficient investment in the young.

Intergenerational transmission of attitudes toward the family: the role of family size
Valeria Bordone, Vienna University of Economics & Business; Michael Murphy, London School of Economics; Vegard Skirbekk, IIASA

This study investigates the association between family size (i.e. number of children within the family) and the similarity of parent and child attitudes about two alternative family forms, opposite-sex and same-sex cohabitation. We consider the extent to which family size moderates the relationships between intergenerational attitudinal congruence using multiactor data on native Dutch from the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (N = 4,075). Multilevel regression and multinomial models show that while for cohabitation among opposite-sex couples there is no statistically significant difference in the parent-child similarity of attitudes in families with one child as compared to their corresponding dyads in families with 2 children, a lower similarity is found when looking at same-sex cohabitation. The higher the number of children, the larger (and positive) is the difference between parent’s attitude and child’s attitude on opposite-sex cohabitation, showing that parents are more traditional than the children.

Household structures in Europe, and their relationship with poverty and deprivation
Maria Iacovou, Institute of Social & Economic Research, University of Essex

This paper examines the relationship between household composition and a range of measures of the sufficiency, or otherwise, of people’s incomes. The link between household structure and the risk of poverty has been documented in a range of studies (Bane and Ellwood, 1986), with particular attention paid to vulnerable groups, including families with children (Bradbury and Jantti, 1999); young adults (Aassve et al, 2007) and older people (Rendall, 1995). However, these studies tend to be restricted to subgroups in society; no study has attempted to document the relationship between household structure and income sufficiency across a wide range of household types, and across all 27 countries of the post-2005 European Union. That is the aim of this paper. The paper uses data from the EU-SILC, and assesses four measures of disadvantage: two measures of relative income poverty (household income below 50% and 60% of national medians, respectively) and two measures of subjective hardship (income insufficiency and difficulty in making ends meet). We identify those households which are at the greatest risk of poverty and hardship, examining how these risks vary across Europe, and how they vary between the different indicators of disadvantage which we consider. Although there are large variations between regions, and between countries within regions, in the risk of disadvantage, we find that three groups in particular are at an elevated risk of both poverty and hardship: households consisting of a single retired adult; households consisting of a single adult below retirement age; and lone parent households. However, we point out that social policy should not focus exclusively on these groups because when we consider the poor population as a whole, other groups, notably two-parent families with children, constitute a very large proportion of the poor population.