Education, Occupation and Social Origin
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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.
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Chapter 9: Direct social origin effects and educational returns in Norway

Arne Mastekaasa


A basic finding in stratification research is that people’s socio-economic status and earnings are related to their social origins. It is also well established that much if not all of this association is due to an indirect effect operating via own educational achievements: people from more advantaged origins obtain higher levels of education, and more education leads to higher status and earnings. It is less clear to what extent social origins have an effect on status and earnings beyond this indirect effect and how this effect has developed over time. The number of previous studies examining direct social origin effects is quite small, and has also led to quite variegated results (see, e.g., Breen and Luijkx 2004; de Graaf and Kalmijn 2001; Marks 2009; Torche 2011; Warren et al. 2002). With regard to Norway, an earlier study of cohorts born 1950 to 1970 found a not very strong but slightly increasing association between parents’ and own earnings when own education was controlled for (Mastekaasa 2011a). A weak (and negative) association between own earnings and parents’ level of education did not exhibit systematic change.

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