The Politics of Intergenerational Mobility: The Role of Preferences, Perceptions and Attitudes

Recent years have seen high levels of economic and social inequality come to the forefront of the academic and public debate. Social mobility—the movement of individuals between socially salient strata—marks a pivotal and dynamic prism through which inequality can be analyzed. Yet, the determinants of social mobility have received scant attention in the literature so far.

The main goal of this research group is to understand how and why inequalities may persist among certain groups and across generations. A particular focus will be the role of perceptions and attitudes in the dynamics of inequality. Perceptions and attitudes are central to these dynamics because they affect intrinsic preferences and behaviors that shape current and future prospects in terms of income, wealth, education, employment as well as civic and political engagement. However, to date, there is limited empirical evidence of how preferences and values change across time and generations, and of how they affect economic outcomes among different individuals and groups. There is also limited knowledge about how they might be changed in order to reduce inequalities between socio-economic groups and in order to reduce the transmission of inequalities across generations.

How is inequality evolving across generations? What is the role of preferences, perceptions and attitudes in this inter-generational transmission? Is there a role for policy to influence them and the resulting welfare outcomes? These are the questions that form the focus of this research group. In order to shed light on them, we take a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach, using a variety of research methods, from survey experiment to observational data and theoretical models to parse out salient determinants of social mobility and inequality transmission.