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Urban escalators and inter-regional elevators: the difference that location, mobility and sectoral specialisation make to occupational progression

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Anthony Champion, Emeritus Professor Mike Coombes



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This paper uses evidence from the Longitudinal Study for England/Wales to examine the influence on occupational advancement of the city-region of residence (an escalator effect) and of relocation between city-regions (an elevator effect). It shows both effects to be substantively important, though less so than the sector of employment. Elevator effects are found to be associated with moves from slacker to tighter regional labour markets. Escalator effects, on the other hand, are linked with residence in larger urban agglomerations, though not specifically London, but also across most of the Greater South East and in second/third order city-regions elsewhere. Sectoral escalator effects are found to be particularly strong in knowledge-intensive activities, with concentrations of these, as of other advanced job types (rather than of graduate labour), contributing strongly to the more dynamic city-regional escalators. The impact of the geographic effects is found to vary substantially with both observed and unobserved personal characteristics, being substantially stronger for the young and for those whose unobserved attributes (e.g. dynamic human capital) generally boost rates of occupational advance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gordon I, Champion T, Coombes M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning A

Year: 2015

Volume: 47

Issue: 3

Pages: 588-606

Print publication date: 01/03/2015

Acceptance date: 01/12/2014

Date deposited: 17/02/2015

ISSN (print): 0308-518X

ISSN (electronic): 1472-3409

Publisher: Pion


DOI: 10.1068/a130125p


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Funder referenceFunder name
RES 348-25-0004ESRC Census of Population Programme