Inequality across Generations: Status Attainment in a Catalan Industrial Town, Sant Feliu De Llobregat (1800-1880).

Gabriel Brea, CED, Barcelona
Joana Maria Pujadas-Mora, Center for Demographic Studies

Catalonia faced one of the earliest processes of industrialization in south Europe, based mainly in textile activities. Since the second half of the 19th century, the Barcelonese cotton industry, moved towards adjacent areas to the Llobregat’s riverside in search of hydric sources for a high-demanding water supply (Nadal, 1992). Sant Feliu was one of the most important towns in this region, and the arrival of these economic activities induced the turn from an agricultural town to one with a wider occupational and social spectrum.

Sant Feliu’s industrialisation may have altered individuals’ inter and intra -generational status according to general literature. In this regard, the modernization theory defends that changes in the occupational structure, the educational system’s and mass transportation’s implementation propitiated a turn from parental status adscription to meritocratic status achievement, increasing social mobility (Treiman, 1970). Nevertheless, other studies argue that higher-resource families and individuals retaining their influences and preponderant positions blocked social openness (Grusky, 1983). Furthermore, the industrialisation beginning rised economic inequality (Prados de la Escosura, 2008), presumably jeopardizing the individual’s social mobility, enforcing disparity across generations, hampering the intergenerational transmission of tangible and intangible assets (Van Leeuwen, 2009).

This paper aims at evaluating how intergenerational transmission shaped the individuals’ status attainment trajectories upon industrialisation; enquiring if the occupational structure transformation surpassed or not the familial influence on individual’s attainment. We reconstruct individuals’ occupational careers through ten preserved local censuses linked and crosschecked with individual fiscal data from the Barcelona Historical Marriage Database. We use multilevel modelling for familial effects persistence adding different measures of individual and household inequality in order to inquiry whether the interaction of contextual factors as disparity, changes in the occupational structure and the inherent inheritance legal system affected the familial dynamics of intergenerational transmission by social class, birth order, sex among others.

Presented in Session 112: Filling Knowledge Gaps Using New Data