Last revised: 2019/10/05


The International Stratification and Mobility File [ISMF] is a collection of harmonized sample survey data with information on social stratification and social mobility, in particular respondent's and parents’ social statuses (education, occupation). The data set is created and maintained by Harry B.G. Ganzeboom at VU University Amsterdam, in collaboration with Donald J. Treiman and Elizabeth Stephenson, University of California-Los Angeles. Access to these data can only be obtained by request, but some of the resources used for creating the ISMF are open to public access.


The goal of the ISMF project is to create a comparative database to study social mobility patterns over time and throughout the world.  To this end, the ISMF aims to be as comprehensive as possible in its inclusion of all surveys that meet the specified criteria (see below).  For some nations, included surveys extend as far back as the 1940’s and are as recent as 2018.  As of October 2019, the database includes more than 250 surveys, from 56 nations. With time measured by 5-year birth cohorts, these surveys include data for over 500 nation*time combinations.  In all, about two million individuals, both men and women, are included in the database.


Criteria for inclusion in the ISMF are:


ü  The survey contains information on father's occupation, respondent's level of education, and respondent's current occupation, which together define the most elementary status attainment model.


ü  The survey is representative of a national or sub-national general population.  "Sub-national" refers to political units that are parts of larger states but that have distinct identities, separate education systems, separate labor markets, and sometimes separate languages.  Examples include England/Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland within Great Britain; English and French Canada; and Dutch and French-speaking Belgium.


ü  The survey is available to researchers at no cost or low cost.




·         Overview of harmonized variables in ISMF

·         Catalogue of Social Mobility Data - ASCII version

·         Overview of ISMF harmonized studies with links to occupation and education conversions

·         149 Intergenerational Occupational Mobility Tables (Ganzeboom, Luijkx & Treiman, 1989)

·         References




The ISMF itself is currently not available for distribution: researchers should acquire the source data at the respective data-archives and generate their own harmonized extract file. However, we do provide researchers with some important tools for harmonization efforts, in particular maps to recode occupation and education categories into internationally and historically comparable metrics. Researchers are free to use and adapt these tools for these purposes, but are asked to cite these tools using the following citation:


Ganzeboom, Harry B.G.; Treiman, Donald J., “International Stratification and Mobility File: Conversion Tools” [Date of last revision].


All modules are formatted as SPSS syntax files, and should open in SPSS on any computer that has this widely distributed statistical software package installed. Otherwise, they can be read as straight ASCII (.txt) files.


Harmonization and Scaling Tools


The ISMF project develops harmonization and measurement tools for detailed country-specific occupational and educational classifications. These include the International Socio-Economic Index [ISEI] of occupational status and the International Standard Level of Education [ISLED], as well as a large number of conversions of country-specific measures into ILO’s International Standard Classification of Occupation [ISCO 1968, 1988, 2008] and UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education [ISCED, 1997, 2011].


·         ISMF Conversions for Country-specific Occupation and Education Codes

·         Status Measures for the International Standard Classification of Occupations 1968 (ISCO)

·         Status Measures for the International Standard Classification of Occupations 1988 (ISKO)

·         Status Measures for the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISQO)



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