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Birth cohorts between hysteresis and resilience effects: Social value of education and stratification in France and the US 1970-2005

Abstract : Most research pieces on age-period-cohort (APC) models assess the intensity of cohort effects under the hypothesis of their stability over life course. A new step in APC research is proposed here with a test on cohort effect stability over life course. Such an hypothesis must be tested since examples exist in which perfect hysteresis of cohort effects is not a realistic assumption. The very recent ASR paper of Yang Yang and colleagues' (2008) on APC models can be improved to provide such a diagnosis. The example of the relation between diploma and social position (coded as SEI or as EGP) over the latest decades demonstrates that strong cohort fluctuations exist in the "returns to education" (in terms of occupational position) of cohorts of young adults, but these fluctuations can (or can not) be absorbed with their stabilization in adulthood. Here, "effect of resilience" is defined as an effect of absorption of shocks experienced in early adulthood. The intensity of "cohort effects" and of "resilience effects" in early adulthood status attainment shocks are important characteristics of welfare regimes: compared to the United States considered as a liberal regime where labor flexibility is stronger, the French conservative welfare regime induces stronger cohort effects (early adulthood fluctuations are more intense) and less resilience (the shocks are more durable since their absorption is weaker). France is a country with strong and durable cohort fluctuations, implying gaps between "social generations" (= socially polarizaed and constructed births cohorts), when the US are more linear in this respect. Thus, a systematic analysis of stability/resilience in cohort effects appears as an important issue in the APC research agenda, since strong cohort effects without resilience should receive more attention from sociologists.
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Louis Chauvel. Birth cohorts between hysteresis and resilience effects: Social value of education and stratification in France and the US 1970-2005. Crest (Insee) Séminaire « Économie et Sociologie » Une démocratisation de l’école ?, Oct 2008, Paris, France. ⟨hal-03587544⟩

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