Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper
Title Socioeconomic Homogamy in the European Union: Assessment of ESeG Level 1 Prototypes and Indications Regarding Level 2 Categories Using Data from the European Labour Force Survey
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://www.cros-portal.eu/sites/default/files/Rapport_MBouchetValat_def_eng.pdf
Homogamy is an interesting criterion to assess the capacity of a socioeconomic classifcation
to describe European societies. Indeed, we may consider that the goal of a good socioeconomic
classifcation is to identify consistent groups whose both objective living conditions and life styles
exhibit a strong internal homogeneity, but also to closely follow distinctions and boundaries
considered as meaningful by the individuals themselves. Paterns of assortative mating can be
taken as an index of a classifcation’s adequacy to these goals, since they reveal both objective and
subjective distances between groups, as well as group closure, a sign of strong group identity. Just
like social mobility, homogamy can thus be used as an objective criterion which helps identifying
meaningful groups without relying on a specifc national context – and helps avoiding the
opposition between emic (culturally specifc and meaningful to actors) and etic (culturally neutral
and theoretically derived) approaches (Rose and Harrison 2009, 31–32).
In the present document, we draw on this idea to bring a contribution to the elaboration of the
ESeG European socioeconomic classifcation, by investigating two directions. In the frst part of
the study, the three competing prototypes which have been elaborated by the project for the frst
level of the ESeG classifcation are assessed according to the strength of the homogamy they
measure. In the second part, an exploratory analysis is conducted using detailed socioeconomic
groups in order to give insight into the social distances between categories; the social space thus
identifed ofers some guidance to regroup detailed categories in order to elaborate the second
level of the classifcation. We conclude with a quick investigation of the extent to which the
ambition of describing the population of European countries using a common socioeconomic
classifcation – which implies the existence of a form of “European society” – is a reasonable one,
at least as far as the structure of intergroup relationships is concerned.

Related studies