Social Origin and Secondary Labour Market Entry at the Crossroad of Ascriptive and Institutional Inequality

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In a new working paper, Paolo Barbieri and Filippo Gioachin investigate how labour market flexibilisation strengthens the role of social origins in conditioning inter- and intragenerational mobility chances.

Drawing on the upper-class aversion to downward mobility, they explore mechanisms through which advantaged social origins directly compensate for the socioeconomic penalty that arises from initial contractual instability over the career. Conversely, they examine whether a bad start for less-socially privileged entrants represents a source of cumulative disadvantages.

The Italian and German labour markets are optimal national cases since they share a partial and targeted deregulation process, but they differ in terms of their LM institutions and mobility regimes.

The authors combine propensity score matching and growth curves to counterfactually compare the career development of service- and working-class entrants in the two countries who began with similar socioeconomic status.

They reveal that social origin contributes to unequal trajectory developments in both contexts, especially for the low- and middle-educated. No significant DESO over the career emerges among degree holders in either country.

Finally, attending university entirely reduces the flexibility penalty in Italy, whereas for German graduates, initial instability serves as a gateway to more-prestigious jobs.


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