Bettina Schuck, Jennifer Shore
Does intergenerational mobility have political consequences? Mobility experiences and expectations and attitudes toward the welfare state

24th International Conference of Europeanists, University of Glasgow, July 12th to July 14th, 2017

Political attitudes have many antecedents, such as the crucial role one’s economic position and social origins play in shaping political preferences. The experiences people have throughout their lifetimes, but particularly in their younger years, indeed imprint on their political opinions. Today we face a situation in which upward social mobility (i.e., achieving a higher socio-economic status than one’s parents) is no longer a given for many young people. How does social mobility (upward/downward) impact young people’s political attitudes? To answer this question, we examine attitudes toward the welfare state using a unique dataset on young Europeans. Not only do we investigate the impact of upward vs. downward mobility, but also the effect of mobility expectations. The study contributes to the theoretical and empirical literatures on political attitudes and social mobility by adopting a cross-national comparative perspective. Preliminary results suggest that the relationship between the experience of upward/downward mobility and an individual’s political opinion varies depending on the dimension of mobility, with expected future mobility exerting a stronger effect on welfare support attitudes than past mobility experiences.