The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Path Dependence and Occupations

  • Maristella Botticini
  • Zvi Eckstein
Reference work entry


Path dependence in occupations refers to the observed occupational distribution in a population or in a sub-population at a point in time that depends on changes that occurred years or centuries earlier. Path dependence in occupations can be the outcome of the cumulative concentration of certain productive activities in specific regions over time, it can emerge through the effect of parental income or wealth on offspring’s occupations and incomes, or it can be the outcome of group effects. Some historical cases are selected to illustrate the various mechanisms through which path dependence in occupations can emerge or disappear.


Affirmative action Black–white labour market inequality (USA) Civil Rights Act 1964 (USA) Commercial and trade diasporas Economic geography Ghettoes Great Migration (USA) High school movement (USA) Inequality (explanations) Innovation Intergenerational income mobility Intergenerational occupational mobility Intergenerational skill transfers International migration Jewish economic history Kuznets, S. Labour market discrimination Manufacturing belt (USA) Migration and labour markets Occupational choice Occupational structure Path dependence Path dependence in occupations Poverty traps QWERTY keyboard Religion and economic development Residential mobility Rural-urban migration Urbanization Women’s work 

JEL Classifications

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maristella Botticini
    • 1
  • Zvi Eckstein
    • 1
  1. 1.