AbstractTwo traditionally separate approaches to social mobility, the comparative social mobility research tradition, and the behavior genetic approach, can be reconciled into a synthetic model of socioeconomic achievement. In the synthetic model the behavior-genetic decomposition of the variance in a measure of socioeconomic success into genetic, shared environment, and unshared environment components is used to predict the intergenerational (parent-child) association for that measure. The intergenerational association is shown to be a composite of genetic and shared environment effects. The behavior-genetic decomposition of the intergenerational association illuminates interpretations of the mobility model in terms of degree of meritocracy of the stratification system, and permits consistent reformulations of the predictions of modernization theory and institutional theory. The behavior-genetic decomposition of the mobility model also opens up new perspectives on the relationships among different dimensions of socioeconomic success (such as measures of educational and economic attainment) and generates new predictions on opportunity level as function of the level of resources in the social environment, some of which turn out to be consistent with Vilfredo Pareto’s classic conception of social mobility.
Keywords: social stratification, social mobility, behavior genetics, heritability, meritocracy.