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Education, Occupation and Social Origin

Education, Occupation and Social Origin

A Comparative Analysis of the Transmission of Socio-Economic Inequalities

Edited by Fabrizio Bernardi and Gabrielle Ballarino

This innovative book takes a comparative approach to the social origin–education–destination triangle (OED), looking at the intergenerational transmission of advantage in 14 countries. The intention is to debate the claim that education is the ‘great social equalizer’. The contributors examine the relation between family background, education and occupational achievement over time and across educational levels, focusing on the relationship between individuals’ social origins and their income and occupational outcomes. It will be of interest to academics and students of social policy and those interested in social inequalities and their reproduction over time.

Chapter 4: Inequality in educational returns in Hungary

Tamás Keller and Péter Róbert

Subjects: education, education policy, social policy and sociology, education policy, sociology and sociological theory


Research on intergenerational social mobility as well as on returns to education has a long tradition in Hungary. Father-to-son/daughter-type mobility analysis by Andorka (1990) reveals that social fluidity even increased, particularly after the Second World War, during the period of the communist transformation and rapid industrialization. This tendency, however, did not continue, as subsequent research found a decrease in social openness after the fall of communism (Róbert and Bukodi 2004). Research based on the Blau and Duncan (1967) approach has tested the ‘increased merit selection’ (IMS) hypothesis (Jonsson 1992), investigating the long-term trends in the effects of social origin on educational attainment, as well as in the impact of education on achieved social status. It has found a marked fall for the influence of father’s occupation for men and a more moderate decrease for women. The impact of father’s education on respondent’s education turned out to be more persistent, while the effect of education on the respondent’s International Socio-Economic Index of Occupational Status (ISEI) score increased from the decades between the two world wars and the communist period until the end of the 1960s, but started to decline thereafter in the 1970s and 1980s. This curvilinear trend was more marked for women than men (Luijkx et al. 2002).

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