The impact of intra-generational class mobility on economic preferences: A longitudinal analysis based on the British Household Panel Survey

Macarena Ares (European University Institute)

19th May, 13:00h, Sala de Juntes

Much has been written and debated about the role of social class for policy preferences in post-industrial societies. Yet, most of the research considering the association between class location and political preferences has been based on cross-sectional analyses that disregard another important trait pertaining to advanced economies: the greater prevalence of unstable employment trajectories. In this paper, I adopt a longitudinal approach to class voting and rely on British Household Panel Survey data to study how changes in class location throughout respondents’ employment careers (intra-generational class mobility) affect economic policy preferences. By implementing Oesch’s eight-class scheme, I depart from the traditional industrial approach of considering exclusively vertical mobility, and account also for horizontal mobility between classes embedded in different work logics. Results from random-effects models provide support for the gradient constraint hypothesis, indicating that mobile respondents show more moderate preferences than the class immobile. The class mobile will partially adopt the preferences of their class of destination but do not completely abandon the preferences that characterize their class of origin. Additionally, fixed-effects models study within-individual variation in mobility and preferences. These results indicate that, although at the individual level the association between mobility and preferences is weaker, individuals who move upward or enter the independent work logic (i.e. become self-employed) come to be more opposed to state intervention in the economy.