This paper examines the relationship between class of origin, educational attainment, and class of entry to the labour force, in three cohorts of men in the Republic of Ireland using data collected in 1987. The three cohorts comprise men born (i) before 1937; (ii) between 1937 and 1949; and (iii) between 1950 and 1962. The paper assesses the degree of change over the three cohorts in respect of (a) the gross relationship between origins and entry class; (b) the partial effect (controlling for education) of origin class on entry class; (c) the partial effect of education (controlling for origins) on class of entry. In broad terms the liberal theory of industrialism would imply a movement, over the three cohorts, towards (a) increasing social fluidity; (b) a weakening of the partial effect of origin class; (c) a strengthening of the partial effect of education. These latter two trends should be particularly noticeable in the youngest cohort, which would, to some degree, have benefited from the introduction of free post-primary education in Ireland in 1967.
Our results provide almost no support for these hypotheses. We find that patterns of social fluidity in the origin/entry relationship remain unchanged over the cohorts. The partial effect of class remains relatively constant; and, while the partial effect of education on entry class changes over the cohorts, the most striking result in this area is the declining returns to higher levels of education. While the average level of educational attainment increased over the three cohorts, the advantages accruing to the possession of higher levels of education simultaneously diminished. Taken together our results suggest that, in Ireland, those classes that have historically enjoyed advantages in access to more desirable entry positions in the labour market have been remarkably adept at retaining their advantages during the course of industrialization and through the various educational and other labour market changes that have accompanied this process.
|Number of pages||15|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 1993|