Indirect pathways of multigenerational persistence: the role of uncles and assortative mating in the Netherlands, 1857-1922

Kim Stienstra, Antonie Knigge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Recent research into intergenerational social mobility has examined the association between the socioeconomic position of grandparents (G1) and their grandchildren (G3), but it remains unclear why G1-G3 associations arise. Prevailing explanations focus on whether grandparents have a true direct influence on their grandchildren or an indirect one via omitted parental characteristics. We argue that there may be other important indirect pathways of multigenerational persistence: grandparents can transmit resources via uncles and aunts, and they can encourage assortative mating in the middle generation, which also increases the resources available to their grandchildren. We examine these indirect pathways by studying the status attainment of 176,678 Dutch men for the period 1857 to 1922 using marriage certificates. Results show that G3ʹs status was substantially associated with uncles’ status and that assortative mating based on social origin was strong. Accounting for these associations reduces much of the G1-G3 association. We therefore conclude that multigenerational persistence arose hardly because grandfathers had a direct influence but rather because grandfathers were important in more indirect ways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-94
Number of pages28
JournalThe History of the Family
Volume28
Issue number1
Early online dateJun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Social mobility
  • assortative mating
  • grandparents
  • multigenerational
  • uncles

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