SOC 280 Discussion Factors Affecting Occupational Mobility

March 8, 2022
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SOC 280 Discussion Factors Affecting Occupational Mobility

SOC 280 Discussion Factors Affecting Occupational Mobility

Discussion Prompt 1: Discuss social mobility in the United
States. Be sure to discuss open versus closed stratification systems as well as
the different types of mobility. Also, specifically think about the factors
that affect occupational mobility and discuss how these may or may not affect you.

Discussion Prompt 2: Describe a highly publicized trial
using the sociological concepts you studied this week.

Occupational mobility refers to changes in individual occupational status. Occupational mobility is usually measured by changes in International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) categories. This criterion cannot, however, be applied to researchers because most job changes would not result in a change in ISCO category. Thus, we need to consider other substantial changes in job profiles and job content in order to analyze researchers’ occupational mobility. Career progression is a driver of occupational mobility. Changes within the academic career, for example, promotion from assistant professor to associate and then full professor, are usually associated with positive changes in job profile and job content and provide access to additional resources. Therefore, job changes that result in a promotion could be considered a proxy for occupational mobility. A considerable number of studies have focused on the determinants of academic promotion, showing the importance of a higher rank to enable full access to resources and institutional advantages (e.g., Long, Allison, & McGinnis, 1993). In addition, gender discrimination in academia has been shown to operate through promotion (Ginther & Hayes, 2003; McDowell, Singell, & Stater, 2006; Ginther & Kahn, 2004). Occupational mobility can also be used to assess other types of mobility. For example, Oswald and Ralsmark (2008) show that 75% of associate professors in the top 10 economic departments among US universities did their first degree outside the United States; that is, they engaged in a type of educational mobility.

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SOC 280 Discussion Factors Affecting Occupational Mobility

SOC 280 Discussion Factors Affecting Occupational Mobility

Occupational mobility also captures the transition from research-active to research-inactive academics. In a typical academic career, researcher time is split among research, teaching, and administration/service. However, not all scientists are involved in doing administration or teaching activities, and not all teachers engage in research. While all PhD holders conduct some research at the start of their careers, some might have decided or been pushed to abandon research and focus on teaching, administration, or (technical) support tasks (see Chapter 10 by Geuna and Shibayama, for a study of occupational mobility in Japan).

Geographical/Labor Market Factors
In general, a career change involves a different workplace. A geographical change incurs search and moving costs, so job vacancies in the same geographical vicinity should be associated with a higher likelihood of a job change. Disentangling types of employers, Zucker et al. (2002) show that mobility from academia to industry is positively associated with the number of biotech firms and negatively associated with the number of top-rated universities in the area. The effect of concentration of universities is unclear because universities offer both research and teaching jobs. In an attempt to disentangle these two types of employment opportunities, we expect that the local concentration of research-intensive universities will be negatively correlated with exit, while local concentration of teaching-oriented universities will be positively correlated with exit. We control also for the size of the local labor market and supply of qualified researchers.

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