The literature on intergenerational mobility has for long recognized the importance of education as the key intermediate factor (Breen & Jonsson, 2005; Erikson & Goldthorpe, 2002). The main findings resulting from this research are that there is a large increase in educational mobility, which, in time, facilitates also the class mobility across generations. Results, however, are not uniform across countries and have been demonstrated to depend on the country’s structure of schooling and its influence on transitions between levels of education for different social origins (Muller & Karle, 1993).

In this project, we aim at analyzing education choices in Catalonia. Using the Social Inequality Panel Survey (Fundació Jaume Bofill), we want to analyze the role of parental background, area of birth and cohort in four education decisions: 1. level of education, 2. vocational vs academic education choice, 3. STEM field of study choice, and 4. long vs short university program (diplomatura/ licenciatura).

The level of education refers to the choice between obtaining compulsory education only, non-compulsory secondary education or tertiary education. The non-compulsory education can be classified into vocational studies (job oriented) or academic studies (oriented to pursue further education). At the university level, field of education is an important choice. The interest in the distinction between technical and highly mathematical fields (STEM fields) and less technical fields (social sciences, philology, education…) has increased recently. Moreover, we can distinguish between long and short programs in the Spanish universities during the 2000s until recently. They differed in several qualitative aspects apart from the years of study they required. The long program, which was called Licenciatura (4-year studies), gave access to doctoral studies. Moreover, it was generally regarded as more prestigious by the labor market and on average offered more and better job opportunities than the short program (called Diplomatura, 3-year studies). In some occupations, it was actually required by law to have a degree from a long program (Engineering, Law, Medicine…). Since the entrance to the European Higher Education Area, most university degrees became 4 years long.

This paper is related to research on social mobility in Catalonia. Xavier Martinez and Antoni Marín (2016; 2012) use the same data to study social mobility in Catalonia.



Breen, R., & Jonsson, J. O. (2005). Inequality of Opportunity in Comparative Perspective: Recent Research on Educational Attainment and Social Mobility. Annual Review Sociology, 31(2005), 223–43. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.31.041304.122232

Erikson, R., & Goldthorpe, J. H. (2002). Intergenerational Inequality: Sociological Perspective. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16, 31.

Martínez-celorrio, X., & Marin, A. (2016). Crisi , descens social i xarxes de confiança.

Martínez Celorrio, X., & Marín Saldo, A. (2012). Crisi , trajectòries socials i educació. Anàlisi longitudinal del PaD (2003-2009).

Muller, W., & Karle, W. (1993). Social Selection in Educational Systems in Europe. European Sociological Review, 9(1), 1–23.


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Published on 17/11/17
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