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Demographic processes and socioeconomic reproduction in the long run

Aubervilliers, France, 29 July 2022


This session was organized by the IUSSP Panel on Historical Demography at the XIX World Economic History Congress (WEHC), held from 25 to 29 July 2022 at the Centre des colloques in Campus Condorcet, Aubervilliers (north of Paris) as well as online.


In recent years, there has been an upsurge across the social sciences in research on inequality and social mobility. This has contributed to the emergence of new topics and research questions, such as multigenerational (i.e. more than two generations) mobility or the role of extended kinship in mobility, and to the development of innovative methods to analyze it. A key goal of this session was to take stock of this research, in all its diversity, and to open new research directions. To do so, the session focused on the link with demographic processes, a central but often neglected element to study social reproduction in the long run. Indeed, while most of the focus has been on intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status (income, wealth, occupation, etc.), our knowledge about mechanisms of socioeconomic reproduction remains limited. In particular, demographic processes underwent huge changes in the last centuries, which, without doubt, must matter for socioeconomic reproduction. Research of this kind – connecting demographic and socioeconomic processes from a longitudinal, comparative perspective – will improve our understanding of the driving forces of socioeconomic inequality and how they have changed in the long run.


This session brought together research examining how demographic behaviors and the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status interact to shape patterns of inequality over time. It was an opportunity to discuss how families circulate between socioeconomic strata longitudinally, looking at various indicators of socioeconomic position, not only occupation or income but also education or land ownership. For instance, patterns of socioeconomic differentials in demographic outcomes may contribute to persistence by reducing dilution of family resources across generations if, as often hypothesized, there is a ‘quantity-quality’ trade-off in which high-status families have fewer children in which they invest more resources. On the other hand, socioeconomic differentials in reproduction may also increase intergenerational mobility if members of high-status families are more likely to marry, have more children, and divide their resources among their children.


The five papers presented research on a variety of contexts: Asia (Japan in the long run), Europe, and Quebec. These papers differ in terms of the period covered but all adopt long-term, interdisciplinary perspectives on social reproduction. The session provided an opportunity to review the state of the field of social mobility and develop partnerships to foster future comparative work.


Session PA.086:

Demographic processes and socioeconomic reproduction in the long run

Part 1, 14:00-15:30

Chair: Martin Dribe

Discussant: Lionel Kesztenbaum

  • Gabriel Brea-Martinez and Martin Dribe (Lund University) Fertility timing and intergenerational income mobility: the case of southern Sweden 1905-2015. In person
  • Hao Dong (Peking University) and Ineke Maas (Utrecht University) Demographic Transition and Intergenerational Occupational Mobility in the Netherlands. Online
  • Yuzuru Kumon (Bocconi University) The Deep Roots of Inequality. Online


Part 2, 16:00-17:30

Chair: Lionel Kesztenbaum

Discussant: Martin Dribe

  • Martin Hällsten and Martin Kolk (Stockholm University) The shadow of peasant past: Seven generations of inequality persistence in Northern Sweden. In person
  • Matthew Curtis (UC Davis). Before the fall: Child quantity and quality in pre-transition Quebec. Online