Bernasconi M., Dardanoni V. (2005).

Measuring and evaluating social mobility: evidence on students’ questionnaire. Traub S., Schmidt U. (eds)., Advances in Public Economics: Utility, Choice and Welfare – A Festschrift in Honor of Christian Seidl, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 173-195.



Three fundamental ideas in the study of intergenerational mobility are those of structural mobility, origin independence and rank reversal. We review the theoretical literature focused on the three ideas and present evidence from a questionnaire designed to test students’ views regarding the different notions. The questionnaire is conducted under both a “measurement” and an “evaluation” frame; it uses questions involving both verbal statements of the principles tested and pairwise comparisons of simple hypothetical mobility situations; for the latter exercise, the questionnaire introduces a new intuitive display based on mobility trees. The evidence provides various results: most notably, origin independence affects positively the evaluation of social mobility, while the opposite holds for rank reversal; structural mobility is generally valued positively, though with some ambiguities for people to fully recognize its implications.