Economic transformations, technological change and the gendered geography of social mobility in France

About this Session


Thu. 11.04. 12:10



Author – Cyril Janet.

Abstract :

The objective of the paper is to study how the geography of social mobility differs by gender, and to understand the interaction between gender, technological changes and social mobility. Since the second world war, the French economy has been subject to major changes that impacted the territories in heterogeneous ways. These technological and economic transformations have created new types of occupations and changed the share of the different sectors of the economy. We examine how this has created different opportunities for men and women to reproduce the social class of their father and their mother. We use data from the French Labor Force Survey to describe mobility regimes from the 1950 onwards. We have data on 2,340,244 individuals and we can measure their position at different geographical levels: the neighborhood, the city and the « Department » (NUTS 3). Economic transformations and technological changes are measured by economic growth, by number of patterns, the use of new technologies in companies, the share of routine jobs, and the share of jobs in scientific research. The social class is measured with the European Socio-Economic Classification.

The paper shows firstly how gendered is the geography of social mobility: areas in which the men are more mobile are not the same than those in which women are more mobile. Moreover, areas in which the men and the women have the same position than their mother are not the same than those in which they have the same position than their father. We show afterward how technological changes have different impact depending on the interaction between gender and social class. In some areas, technological changes reduce classical industry, which creates more immobility among men from manual working class background: they have to stay in less qualified jobs, while with a dynamic industry they could progress towards more qualified positions. However, in areas with stronger economic dynamisms, changes and the development of new jobs create mobility for children from lower social classes and more immobility for children from the upper service class, because it creates more opportunity for them to reproduce their parent’s position. This effect is particularly important for women, for whom it can be more difficult to access to the most privileged positions. The geography of social mobility in a country is therefore not unique: territories can provide more or less opportunities depending on the interaction between gender and social class.