Educational Choices, Family Background, and Social Mobility: Education and Social Mobility

Educational Choices, Family Background, and Social Mobility: Education and Social Mobility

Maria da Conceição Rego, Carlos Vieira, Isabel Vieira
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7937-3.ch008
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Education is generally considered a valuable tool to improve individual socio-economic status. In European peripheral countries, up to the late 1970s, only a small elite had access to higher education and such privilege guaranteed a comfortable socio-economic position, not only via the job market, but also by allowing the sustainability of pre-existing social links. From then on, democratization of access to higher education should have prompted a decrease in social and economic inequalities within and across countries. However, current data still reflects that, despite gained access to social uplifting tools, individuals from less favored backgrounds appear to not have been able to close the various gaps separating them from the more privileged ones. In this chapter, the authors analyze recent data to characterize higher education attendance in Portugal, highlighting some factors that may still block the socio-economic improvement of the less favored students and suggesting policy measures to overcome them.
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ISM is, from a sociological point of view, the movement of individuals across different social classes or across the social hierarchy. If such movement is ascending, it reflects an improvement of individual’s (or family’s) quality of life in relation to that of previous generations. ISM can be achieved through financial factors (increased personal wealth), social factors (e.g., integration into a higher social group, through marriage), public exposure factors (e.g., attainment of 'celebrity' status in the media), or through training / education (for instance, getting a higher education degree) (Baltazar et. al., 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Income Inequality: Uneven distribution of revenue flows (salaries, interest on savings, dividends, rents, and profits) across families of the same generation.

Educational Persistence: Strong association between educational attainment and performance across generations of the same family.

Intergenerational Social Mobility: The relationship between the socio-economic status of parents and that of their adult children.

Social Status: Social status may be measured by the level of income, wage, social class or occupation. Sociological analyses are usually focused on social class and occupation, and economic ones on income and wages.

Social Stratification: The ranking of people in a society’s categories according to status (i.e., levels of income, social class, or education).

Income Persistence: Strong association between incomes across generations of the same family.

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