Rebuilding Walls: Market Transition and Social Mobility in the Post-Socialist Societies of Europe

Michelle Jackson, Geoffrey Evans

Sociological Science, January 16, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a3

We ask whether the transition from socialism to the market is consequential for social mobility, and, by implication, the permeability of class structures. While the short-term effects of market transition on patterns of social mobility have been documented for a small number of countries, we are able to examine the long-term effects of market transition for a group of 13 central and eastern European (CEE) countries. Only in the longer term can we properly appreciate the settled effects of transition on the distribution of resources, the organization of class and economic structures, and the transmission of inequalities across generations. We use data drawn from nationally representative cross-national surveys of CEE countries to compare patterns of social mobility in the early 1990s with those in the late 2000s. We find a significant decline in relative social mobility between the two periods and show that this decline is a consistent feature of mobility patterns across the region. We argue that changes in the institutions that regulate the transfer of capital across generations are likely to explain why the move from socialism to the market is associated with declining levels of social fluidity.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Michelle Jackson: Department of Sociology, Stanford University

Geoffrey Evans: Nuffield College, University of Oxford

Acknowledgements: We thank John Goldthorpe, David Grusky, Ruud Luijkx, Kenneth MacDonald, the Sociological Science reviewers, and Kim Weeden for their very helpful comments and advice.

  • Citation: Jackson, Michelle V., and Geoffrey Evans. 2017. “Rebuilding Walls: Market Transition and Social Mobility in the Post-Socialist Societies of Europe.” Sociological Science 4: 54-79.
  • Received: July 11, 2016
  • Accepted: November 7, 2016
  • Editors: Kim Weeden
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a3

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