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Intergenerational social mobility and subjective wellbeing in later life

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date29 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


Whereas a great deal of literature has been devoted to investigating the link between intergenerational social mobility and health, the few studies that have examined the association between social mobility and life satisfaction have produced conflicting findings. In the present study, we attempt to rectify several shortcomings common to previous work by examining the association between intergenerational social mobility and both life satisfaction and self-rated health as measured in later-life. Our sample consisted of individuals born in Scotland in 1936, who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey 1947 and were subsequently followed-up into later-life. Regression analyses demonstrated that satisfaction with life at age 78 was not significantly predicted by childhood or adulthood socioeconomic status, or by the amount of social mobility experienced from parental occupational social class. In contrast, self-rated health at age 78 was significantly predicted by adult socioeconomic status and by education, but not by social mobility from parental occupational social class. These results suggest that efforts to promote upwards social mobility may not result in better subjective wellbeing, despite the apparent benefits for health.

    Research areas

  • social mobility, SES, life satisfaction, health

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