Économie et Statistique n° 410 - 2007 Access to Higher Education in France: Genuine but limited Democratisation - Education and Social Mobility: The Paradox of the 1960s Generation - Employment Quality in Europe: A comparative and dynamic Approach.
Education and Social Mobility: The Paradox of the 1960s Generation
The difficulties encountered by people born in the 1960s have been illustrated by many works which particularly emphasise generational inequalities, in terms of salary or career mobility. Such inequalities, which are more marked for people born at the turn of the 1960s, are also evident when we measure the changing flows of intergenerational mobility in successive birth cohorts. Indeed, while the proportion of individuals who manage to improve on the situation of their parents is still higher than the proportion of those who do worse, the gap between the two is diminishing considerably: in 2003, there were only 1.4 times more people who increased their social status than those whose social status declined. The falling prospects for social mobility affect children from all social backgrounds. Upwards trajectories are rarer among working-class people, and downwards trajectories are becoming more common among individuals from more comfortable backgrounds. This can be explained by structural factors (as a result of economic difficulties, the social structure is pulled upwards more quickly). Nevertheless, the situation is paradoxical because these generations enjoy unprecedented levels of education. These two contradictory changes call into question the changing importance attached to qualifications over the years as a measure of social status. The weakening link between qualifications and social position is highlighted, casting doubt on the notion of the gradual advent of a more meritocratic society.