Subjective Demands on Occupational Positions and Their Consequences for Social Mobility Analyses

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Dominik BECKER, University of Tuebingen, Germany
Steffen HILLMERT, University of Tuebingen, Germany
Modernization theories and empirical trends point to fundamental structural changes both within and outside the domain of work. In post-industrial societies, the amount of physically demanding work in the industrial sector has decreased in favor of non-manual jobs in the service sector. Moreover, theories of cultural change posit that younger cohorts have not only aspired material security but have also increasingly emphasized values such as self-enhancement or personal autonomy.

These trends are consequential for determining which occupational positions individuals aim to obtain and which they wish to avoid, and for their subjective experience of mobility. Given that jobs involving physically demanding manual work have become exceptional in many industries, working conditions have become more relevant as a dimension of social inequality. Similarly, if subjective demands for self-enhancement and personal autonomy are comprehensive and also hold for the realm of work, the complexity of job tasks and the flexibility of working time have also become increasingly important. We therefore believe that a topical classification of socio-economic positions and an analysis of relevant social mobility processes should account for these aspects of social inequality.

Following these considerations, we utilize a large-scale dataset of detailed occupational characteristics, the German BIBB/BAuA Labour Force Survey of 2012 (N = 29,737). We first provide a multidimensional classification of occupations which takes employees' working conditions into account. Second, we analyze the distribution of central job characteristics such as income and sociodemographic characteristics such as gender across our classification. Third, we merge this new occupational classification to individual-level longitudinal data. We use two recent waves of the German Socioeconomic Panel (GSOEP) in order to assess amount and patterns of intra-generational occupational mobility. Preliminary findings indicate a satisfactory model fit of our classificatory scheme and corresponding mobility patterns which differ markedly from findings that are based upon conventional classifications.