Cities as drivers of social mobility
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The paper studies the role of cities in enhancing intergenerational social mobility. Cities, where children grew up, can provide resources and opportunities able to increase the chance of employment and status attainment. We assess intergenerational mobility in Italy, the most immobile country in Europe together with Greece and Portugal. We use a data survey providing information on the individual-level track of Italian students' life path from high school to occupation. We merge the data survey with city-level information on socio-economic conditions. We distinguish between students who attended university in the same city where they grew up and those who migrated to another city for higher education. Upward mobility turns out to be higher in: (i) larger cities by population size; (ii) more accessible cities; (iii) cities with low income inequality and high education levels. Also social values and cultural traits play a role in enhancing upward mobility. More generally, if we look at the bundle of factors identifying the urban context, we find that the effect of factors with a positive impact on upward mobility prevails in the Northern cities while the opposite occurs in the Southern cities.