School of Mathematical Sciences

The role of education in social mobility - Path analysis for discrete variables menu

The role of education in social mobility - Path analysis for discrete variables

Jouni Kuha
Department of StatisticsLondon School of Economics
Thu, 20/05/2010 - 17:30
Seminar series: 

Classical path analysis provides a simple way of expressing the observed
association of two variables as the sum of two terms which can with good
reason be described as the "direct effect" of one variable on the other
and the "indirect effect" via a third, intervening variable. This result
is used for linear models for continuous variables. It would often be of
interest to have a similar effect decomposition for cases where some of
the variables are discrete and modelled using non-linear models. One
such problem occurs in the study of social mobility, where the aim is to
decompose the association between a person's own and his/her parents'
social classes into an indirect effect attributable to associations
between education and class, and a direct effect not due to differences
in education.

Extending the idea of linear path analysis to non-linear models
requires, first, an extended definition of what is meant by total,
direct and indirect effects and, second, a way of calculating sample
estimates of these effects and their standard errors. One solution to
these questions is presented in this talk. The method is applied to data
from the UK General Household Survey, illustrating the magnitude of the
contribution of education to social mobility in Britain in recent

[This is joint work with John Goldthorpe (Nuffield College, Oxford)]