Intergenerational Educational Mobility and Inequality in Life Satisfaction over the Life Course

Alexander Patzina, Institute for Employment Research

This study examines the effects of intergenerational educational mobility on life satisfaction over the life course. So far, research on the non-monetary benefits and costs of intergenerational social mobility delivers mixed results. This ambiguity in previous results might be a consequence of focusing on occupational or socio-economic mobility rather on educational mobility. Further, previous research does not taking the age relatedness of resource dependent trajectories of life satisfaction into account. Focusing on educational mobility instead of socio-economic mobility has two key advantages: first, a clear defined theoretical body predicts why we might find heterogeneous education effects over the life course. Second, much empirical research has already confirmed the important role of education for intergenerational social mobility processes. To complement current research and to expand our knowledge about the non-monetary benefits and costs of social mobility we rely on a sample derived from 32 waves of the German Socio Economic Panel Study data. To model how life satisfaction of different mobility groups develops over the life course we estimate random- and fixed-effect growth curve models. Our results reveal the importance of intergenerational educational mobility for life satisfaction. In line with our theoretical predictions, educational upward mobility increases subjective well-being over the life course. However, individuals take additional advantage of a higher educational background, leading to ceiling effects in case of upward mobility and buffering effects in case of downward mobility.

Presented in Poster Session 1