Mobility Effects Redux: Does Intergenerational Mobility Shape Individual Psychology?

Jason Houle, Pennsylvania State University

In this study I ask how intergenerational occupational mobility influences individual psychology. Drawing from the work of Sorokin and the “mobility effects” literature, I use data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study and Sobel’s Diagonal Mobility models to estimate the association between mobility and psychological distress, Neuroticism and Openness to Experience. After accounting for background characteristics and origin and destination status, I find little evidence for “mobility effects” insofar as they were theorized by Sorokin. I do find however that those who are mobile from farm origins tend to experience lower levels of distress and neuroticism than do their nonmobile counterparts, suggesting the association of mobility and psychological outcomes may vary by social class origin and historical context. Mobile individuals tended to resemble those in their destination rather than their origin social class, which suggests that destination social status plays a larger role in shaping psychological outcomes than does origin status.

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Presented in Poster Session 1