Social Mobility and Spatial Mobility in the EU

Monday, 16 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Irina CIORNEI, University of Bern, Switzerland
Roxana BARBULESCU, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Albert VARELA, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
A long-standing presupposition in social mobility studies is that spatial mobility is an opportunity for both career advancement and intra-generational mobility. Relocation to ‘escalator regions’ can enhance job promotion and, at the same time, disentangles the tie between the social class which one was born into and the social position she strives to acquire. Migration and mobility research show that, however, the prospects of migrants’ upward mobility is many times contingent upon their origin and destination. Although the freedom of movement regime should not be subject to such contingencies, the evidence is that EU mobility can be conductive to downward mobility and to amplifying existing opportunities for upper class closure and upward mobility for lower middle classes. For lower classes, the linkage between origin and destination remains untied despite the promise of equal opportunities for European citizens. This paper takes a step further in examining the link between spatial mobility in the EU and social mobility and assumes that spatial mobility, in all of its manifestations, constitutes a form of capital that contributes to social mobility and, in particular, to inter-generational upward mobility. We inquire how the time span of mobility experiences (long-term, short-term), types of mobility (for work, education, leisure) and range (few counties, many countries, EU-non-EU) are associated with upward mobility and social fluidity. We also pay attention how gender stratifies spatial mobility and ultimately impacts on post-mobility social mobility. We use the EUCROSS survey conducted with resident population in six European countries in 2012.