Research on long term trends of social stauts
Colombia is considered among the most unequal and least mobile countries in the world. However, the analysis of the long term evolution of social status lacks historical empirical evidence. The goal of this research is to measure the persistence of social status in the long–term in Colombia by using different past and contemporary sources to define social status attributes for different historical groups. This project also contributes to the literature by assembling different data–sets to track persistence and social mobility in the presence of fragmented information. You can find a version of the most recent working paper here.
The most recent OECD report on social mobility places Latin America among the most unequal and least mobile regions in the world. Scholars have suggested that this pattern has roots in the region’s deep past (Prados de la Escosura 2005; Bertola & Ocampo 2012; Bertola & Williamson 2017, Williamson 2010 and 2015), but the evidence is not conclusive. Our project uses surname-based methods to measure long-run social mobility in two Latin American countries: Colombia and Chile. Comparatively, both countries show high levels of income inequality, but they differ in their levels of social mobility (OECD, 2018). The main objective of the proposed project is to develop the analytical tools that enable us to compare Latin American countries systematically. While the study will begin with Colombia and Chile, a parallel goal is to build a network of researchers from many other countries, and lay the foundations for an all-Latin American social mobility project.
Social mobility and the mechanisms behind the transmission of status between generations have been widely studied from different disciplines such as sociology, economics, and economic history. Despite the abundant literature, researchers have reached different conclusions regarding the speed of regression to the mean, and the determinants of mobility. Additionally, the data availability has been an obstacle in countries like Colombia, where there is a lack of reliable data on income and wealth, particularly in the long–run.