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J Biosoc Sci. 2013 Jul;45(4):481-96. doi: 10.1017/S0021932013000035. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Biosocial correlates of inter-generational social mobility in a British cohort.

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Department of Human Biology, University of Wrocław, Poland.


The relationship between inter-generational social mobility of sons and daughters between 1958 and 1991 and biosocial variables, i.e. birth order, number of children in family, father's social class, region, educational attainment of child and father, educational and cognitive test scores (reading, mathematics, verbal and non-verbal IQ tests), was studied in a large British cohort study. The data used were collected as part of the British National Child Development Study (NCDS). The extent of social class mobility was determined inter-generationally and was categorized as none (no change in social class between the father's and index child's social class), upwardly mobile (where the index child moved up one or more social classes compared with their father) or downwardly mobile (where the index child moved down one or more social classes compared with their father). All of the biosocial variables were associated with social mobility when analysed separately. Multivariate analyses revealed that the most significant predictor of mobility categories in both sexes was education of the cohort member, followed by social class of the father. In both sexes mathematics score was a significant predicator, while in sons reading and non-verbal IQ scores were also important predictors. In the light of these results, it appears that social mobility in Britain takes place largely on meritocratic principles.

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