Difference Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility

The main difference between intergenerational and intragenerational mobility is that intergenerational mobility is social movement occurring from one generation to the next, whereas intragenerational mobility is social movement occurring over the course of one’s lifetime.

Intergenerational and intragenerational mobility are two types of social mobility. Also, both these phenomena involve movement between social classes.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Intergenerational Mobility
     – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
2. What is Intragenerational Mobility
     – Definition, Characteristics, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Intergenerational Mobility, Intragenerational Mobility, Social MobilityDifference Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility - Comparison Summary

What is Intergenerational Mobility?

Intergenerational mobility is the social movement or mobility occurring from one generation to the next. In other words, this is a phenomenon where a child attains higher or lower social status than his or her parents. For instance, the child of a factory worker can end up as a doctor; this is an example where the child goes from a lower status to a higher status. Moreover, mobility in this phenomenon is measured by the parent’s and adult children’s’ socioeconomic status: occupation, earnings, social class, etc.

Difference Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility

Figure 1: Intergenerational Economic Mobility

Furthermore, intergenerational mobility describes the extent to which income levels are able to change across generations. In this phenomenon, children have the opportunity to move beyond their social origins, and they can obtain a status that is not dictated by that of their parents. For example, if there was no intergenerational mobility in a society, all children from poor households would become poor adults and all children from rich children would become rich children. Furthermore, intergenerational mobility is often used as a measure of equality of opportunity as well as a way to achieve greater economic efficiency.

What is Intragenerational Mobility?

Intragenerational mobility refers to social movement occurring within an individual’s lifetime. In other words, it is social mobility throughout one’s lifespan. Social mobility is the movement through a system of social hierarchy or stratification.

Key Difference - Intergenerational vs Intragenerational Mobility

Figure 2: Intragenerational Mobility

For example, an individual may begin his career as an office assistant, with minimum educational qualifications. But, over the years, he may acquire more education, skills and experience, and might reach a managerial position. Here, this individual moves up and occupies a higher social position than the one he began with. However, this mobility only affects this person, not the whole family. For instance, this individual’s sibling may also have started work as an office assistant, but he remains in the same position throughout his career. Here, within the same generation, we find that one brother has moved up in social position while one has not.

Similarities Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility

  • Intergenerational and intragenerational mobility are two types of social mobility.
  • Moreover, both involve movement between social classes.
  • The social mobility taking place in these types of mobility can be downwards or upwards, i.e., from a higher position to a lower position or from a lower position to a higher position.

Difference Between Intergenerational and Intragenerational Mobility

Definition

Intergenerational mobility is the social movement or mobility occurring from one generation to the next. Meanwhile, intragenerational mobility refers to social movement occurring within an individual’s lifetime.

Social Movements

In intergenerational mobility, social movement occurs from one generation to the next. But, in intragenerational mobility, social movement occurs over the course of one’s lifetime.

Examples

A child of a factory worker becoming a professor is an example of intergenerational mobility, while a supervisor of a factory becoming its manager is an example of intragenerational mobility.

Parents vs Children

In intergenerational mobility, there is a difference between the social position between parents and children. But, in intragenerational, there may not be much of a difference between the social position between parents and children.

Conclusion

In conclusion, intergenerational and intragenerational mobility are two types of social mobility. The main difference between intergenerational and intragenerational mobility is that intergenerational mobility is social movement occurring from one generation to the next, whereas intragenerational mobility is social movement occurring over the course of one’s lifetime.

Reference:

1. “Intergenerational Income Mobility.” The Conference Board of Canada, Available here.
2. “Social Mobility: The Meaning, Types and Factors Responsible for Social Mobility.” Your Article Library, 4 Dec. 2013, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “3386334” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Intergenerational mobility graph-1” By BoogaLouie – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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