The End of Dominance? Evaluating Measures of Family Background in Stratification Research
We analyze how to best combine information on both parents’ socioeconomic status (SES) in intergenerational research. This can be done by utilizing separate measures for either parents, taking averages over parents, or only using the highest value across parents – the latter commonly referred to as the dominance approach. We assess how much of the sibling correlations in education, occupation, and earnings that are explained by parents’ SES in the same dimensions using the different operationalizations. The dominance approach performs substantially poorer than the other models. We end with a discussion of the implications for research on mobility and using SES background as a confounder.