Tightening up: Declining class mobility during Russia's market transition

Theodore P. Gerber, Michael Hout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study analyzes intergenerational occupational mobility in late Soviet and post-Soviet Russia using data from six surveys. Belying claims that class differences did not matter in the Soviet Union, the authors find that social origin did affect occupational opportunity during Russia's Soviet period. But the transition from state socialism to a market economy tightened the link between origins and destinations. Men and women were equally constrained by their social origin, even though they faced significantly different opportunity structures in both periods. As the economic transformation took hold, fewer Russians experienced upward mobility and more were downwardly mobile. Political and economic transition, not the demographic replacement of retiring cohorts by younger ones, strengthened the association between origins and destinations. Career mobility during the 1990s took the form of a regression toward origins, as workers who had the most upward mobility during the Soviet era lost the most in the transition to markets, abetting the reproduction of the class structure across generations as they fell.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-703
Number of pages27
JournalAmerican sociological review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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