Volume 30, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0169-2216
  • E-ISSN: 2468-9424


Intergenerational downward mobility in the Netherlands

Intergenerational downward mobility in the Netherlands

Several studies have shown that Dutch society has become more open in the last few decades as a result of increasing opportunities for upward social mobility. However, recently it has been observed that the likelihood of downward mobility has increased for the youngest (male) birth cohorts in the Netherlands. Despite this recent finding, social stratification research has paid little attention to testing explanations of downward mobility. This article tries to fill this knowledge gap by testing several theoretical perspectives that aim at explaining intergenerational downward mobility of individuals. In addition, we examine historical trends to study whether the role of these explanations has changed over time. To test the predictive validity of these perspectives, we use data from the Family Survey Dutch Population 2009 (N = 1,423). The empirical results, first of all, indicate that individuals who were born in younger birth cohorts are more likely to experience downward mobility than individuals who were born in older cohorts. We thus replicate earlier findings for the Netherlands. Secondly, we find that cognitive skills and educational attainment in particular provide individuals with significant protection against downward mobility. These findings are mainly in line with the meritocratic perspective. Thirdly, the results reveal that the role of the presumed explanations of downward mobility has not changed over time.


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