DP17788 Measuring Mobility: Intergenerational status mobility across time and place
There is considerable interest in comparing intergenerational social status mobility across time and place. But such attempts are vitiated by unknown measurement errors in status indices, errors that also vary over time and place. Typically the more error, the more apparent social mobility. Using a new database of 1.7 million marriages in England 1837-2021, we show how improving the quality of an occupational status index generates lower implied social mobility. Without control of the errors embodied in all social status indices, attempts to compare social mobility across time and place are impossible. This paper develops a solution to this problem using not absolute correlations, but the relative correlations between different family members. The method deployed here suggests that occupational status persistence in England 1837-2021 was always much greater than conventionally measured, and was largely unchanging 1837-2021.