Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Mr Chalk the Teacher: using innovative panel data to investigate children's consistency in reporting their parent's occupations

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Day:Thu 4 Jul
  • Vernon Gayle, University of Edinburgh

There are widespread social, political and economic concerns about the extent of social mobility in contemporary societies. The extent of social mobility is often examined through the assessment of differences between adjacent generations (e.g. historically fathers and sons). Sociologists have tended to focus on differences in positions in the social class structure between parents and their children, using occupational-based measures of social class. This is often summarised as the ‘origins and destinations’ approach.

In Understanding Society (and in the British Household Panel Survey) adult respondents were asked the retrospective questions, thinking back to when you were 14 years old, was your father working at that time? and what job was your father doing at that time?. These measures are extremely useful in the study of intergenerational mobility, but at the current time little is known about the accuracy of the recall of these measures.

In this paper we present the analysis of new questions on parents’ occupations that were asked to the children in the youth sample of the Innovation Panel. These data are compared with the occupational measures that were simultaneously collected from their parents in the adult sample. The aim of the paper is to present an empirically informed assessment of the reliability of children’s reporting of their parents’ occupations.