Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)

Social Mobility in Northern Ireland

Dr John Moriarty, Dr David Wright, Dr Dermot O’Reilly and Professor Allen Thurston (QUB)
Both the 2008 and 2011 Programmes for Government placed economic growth and creation of enhanced high skill labour market opportunities to the fore among the strategic priorities for Northern Ireland. Intertwined with these objectives is an emphasis on the key role of improved educational attainment in driving opportunities for social mobility. Unfortunately, social mobility has been difficult to quantify satisfactorily, due to a lack of suitable datasets. However, data linking successive Census returns have recently become available, allowing for comparison of labour market progression between persons from different socioeconomic backgrounds. This seminar will demonstrate how such linked longitudinal data can be used as evidence of:
a. The extent of both absolute mobility (i.e. changes to occupational socioeconomic structures over time, both upwards and downwards) and of relative mobility (rates of movement between socioeconomic classes);
b. The extent to which key factors such as an individual’s gender, education attainment or history of disability may affect their opportunities for socioeconomic progression; and,
c. The relative importance of macro-level socioeconomic structures versus individual-level opportunities for upward mobility.

The seminar will conclude with an overview of how further linkage with administrative records around education are enabling us to further disentangle the routes to greater economic opportunity.

This seminar took place on 25 January 2017.

Policy Briefing