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Social Mobility at the Top: Why Are Elites Self-Reproducing?

Elise Brezis and Joel Hellier

No 2013-12, Working Papers from Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics

Abstract: This paper proposes an explanation for the decrease in social mobility that has occurred in the last two decades in a number of advanced economies, as well as for the divergence in mobility dynamics across countries. Within an intergenerational framework, we show that a two-tier higher education system with standard and elite universities generates social stratification, high social immobility and self-reproduction of the elite. Moreover, we show that the higher the relative funding for elite universities, the higher the elite self-reproduction, and the lower social mobility. We also analyse the impacts of changes in the weight of the elite and of the middle class upon social mobility. Our findings provide theoretical bases for the inverted-U profile of social mobility experienced in several countries since World War II and to the ‘Great Gatsby Curve’ relating social mobility to inequality.

Keywords: Elite; Higher Education; Selection; Social mobility; Social stratification (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 J62 O15 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 38 pages
Date: 2013-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-evo, nep-his, nep-ltv and nep-soc
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