Social Mobility in Nineteenth Century Rural Sweden - A Micro Level Analysis

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Preindustrial rural societies have often been pictured as stationary and immobile both geographically and socially. In the last decades this image has begun to change, especially as regards geographical mobility, while our knowledge of social mobility of rural preindustrial Europe is still rudimentary. This study focus on social attainment and mobility in a rural community of nineteenth century southern Sweden, making use of high quality micro-level demographic and socioeconomic data. We show that intergenerational social mobility was quite frequent. Downward mobility was more prevalent than upward, and also increased over time. Social attainment and mobility was determined by a combination of inherited factors and individual agency. Social origin was of major importance, and so was the social origin of the spouse, which points to the crucial role played by partner selection in determining individual social outcome. Availability of networks as measured by place of birth also played a role in social achievement.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-141
JournalScandinavian Economic History Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch