Lecture Videos

Lecture Videos

Yu Xie, Princeton University

“Long-Term Trends in Intergenerational and Multigenerational Occupational Mobility in the United States 1850-2013”, by Yu Xie, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Sociology and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University, presented at the Center for the Study of Economy and Society, Cornell University, on November 30th, 2017.


We examine long-term trends in social mobility in the U.S. from 1850 to the present, a period spanning two eras of exceptionally high economic inequality, the 1870s to 1900 and the 1970s to the present. We will utilize newly available data that include several million linked household and population records from 1850-2013 to better understand changes in mobility and its relation to social inequality. Findings from this study provide the first depiction of long-term continuity and change in the rates and patterns of occupational mobility in the face of dramatic historical changes spanning more than 150 years.

Based on ongoing collaboration with Xi Song at the University of Chicago, Karen A. Rolf at University of Nebraska at Omaha, Joseph P. Ferrie at the Northwestern University, and Catherine G. Massey at the University of Michigan.

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“[T]he challenge is to specify and explicate the social mechanisms determining the relationship between the informal social organization of close-knit groups and the formal rules of institutional structures.”— Victor Nee