July 29th 2022

PA.086 | Demographic processes and socioeconomic reproduction in the long run

Parallel Sessions
This panel aims to bring together research examining how demographic behaviors and the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status interact to shape patterns of inequality over time. It will be an opportunity to discuss how families circulate between socioeconomic strata longitudinally, looking at various indicators of socioeconomic position, not only occupation or income but also education or land ownership. Moreover, we aim to examine how socioeconomic differentials in demographic behaviors modify intergenerational transmission of social and economic status jointly shape observed trends in inequalities. An important evolution of the scholary discussion in recent years has been to extend the analyses in time and space, beyond Europe or North America. Our panel aims at taking this into account with papers on Africa (colonial British Africa), Asia (Japan in the long run) as well as Latin America (six Latin American and Caribbean countries in the 20th century) in complement to more standard contexts (Europe or Quebec). These papers vary a lot in terms of period covered but they all adopt long-term, interdisciplinary perspectives on social reproduction, which makes us hopeful of a fruitful discussion. The panel will thus allow to review the state of the field of social mobility, to help develop partnerships and to foster future comparative work.
J - Labor and Demographic Economics
Martin Dribe - Department of Economic History, Lund University
Hao Dong - Peking University
Lionel Kesztenbaum - Ined
Social Mobility and Fertility: The Case of Southern Sweden 1870-2015
Gabriel Brea-Martinez - Department of Economic History, Lund University
Martin Dribe - Department of Economic History, Lund University
Demographic Transition and Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in the Netherlands
Hao Dong - Peking University
Ineke Maas - Utrecht University
Demographic transition took place around the same period as industrialization in historical Western Europe. Compared to industrialization and modernization, we know much less about the influence of demographic transition on social openness. This study employs the nationally representative Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) to examine how the intergenerational occupational mobility of 15664 Dutch males born in 1850-1922 were shaped by changing demographic differentials between social class origins and across cohorts. We focus on two demographic processes making the social composition of an adult cohort: differential fertility, measured as cohort-origin-specific share of male births, and differential early-life survival, measured as cohort-origin-specific age-fifteen survival rate. We first follow the conventional design to study a convenient sample that only includes males having survived to adulthood and attained an occupation with OLS and hierarchical linear regression models. We further take individual survival selection for occupational attainment into serious consideration and study a complete sample of all ever-born males with Heckman selection models. Different empirical strategies yield consistent findings on the influence of two demographic processes. High fertility of a class relative to others directly discourages its members’ attainment of high-status occupations. By contrast, high early-life survival of peers from the same class reduces the positive influence of father’s status and, therefore, increases intergenerational mobility. The theoretical implication of this study calls for future attention to different trajectories of demographic changes between societies for a better comparative understanding of cross-national trends toward social openness.
The Deep Roots of Inequality.
Yuzuru Kumon - Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse
This paper shows how wealth inequality was lower in East Asia than Western Europe over the very long-run, 1300-2000. A rich new dataset of village censuses in Japan, 1640-1870, and secondary evidence suggest Gini coeffcients of wealth inequality in the East were 0.4-0.5 relative to 0.7-0.9 in the West preceding industrialization. Such regional patterns also precede the black death so any explanation must predate this. I propose the demographic institution of adoption as one such explanation. Adoption prevented the failure of male lines through which wealth was inherited. Adoption was practiced across Eurasia until the 5th century when the church began preaching against it. This increased household extinctions in Europe causing wealth concentration among surviving male lines. In contrast, the Japanese data suggest adoption prevented household extinctions and kept wealth in the family. Simulations show that this mechanism can explain much of the gap in regional wealth inequality.
The shadow of peasant past: Seven generations of inequality persistence in Northern Sweden
Martin Hällsten - Stockholm University
Martin Kolk - Stockholm University
We use administrative data linked to parish records from Northern Sweden to study multigenerational inequality in education, occupations, and wealth from historical to contemporary times. Our data cover seven generations and allows us to follow ancestors of individuals living in Sweden around the new millennium back more than 200 years, covering the mid-18th century to the 21st century. In our sample of around 75,000 traceable descendants, we analyze (a) up to 5th cousin correlations and (b) dynastic correlations over seven generations based on aggregations of ancestors’ social class/status. With both approaches, we find that past generations structure life chances many generations later, even though mobility is very high. The persistence we find using cousin and dynastic correlations is much higher compared to a simple Markov model limited to sequential parent–child transfers, but we also find that direct ancestor associations are very small. This suggests that there is a weak but constant kinship influence that attenuates slowly over generations.
Before the fall: Child quantity and quality in pre--transition Quebec
Matthew Curtis - Université libre de Bruxelles
I estimate the quantity-quality trade-off in Quebec 1620-1850 using three different instruments. Twin births and the aggregate infant mortality rate suggest an increase in number of surviving children of 1 decreased the probability that an older child signed their marriage certificate (a proxy for literacy) by 5 percentage points. The protogensic interval suggests a smaller trade-off of only 1 percentage points. While each method has their limitations, the evidence suggests a modest trade-off, one that can explain much of the gap between rural France and Quebec but not large enough for a reduction to modern levels of fertility to result in modern levels of human capital.