Welcome to Mining Microdata: Economic Opportunity and Spatial Mobility in Britain, Canada and the United States, 1850-1911

This project investigates levels of social mobility in Canada, Great Britain and the United States from 1850 to 1911.

  • It uses census records from the 1850s, 1880s, and 1910s to create two panels of men observed in childhood living with their father, and then thirty years later in adulthood.
  • We measure social mobility by comparing fathers' and sons' occupations at similar points in their lives.

Aims and objectives


  • To create linked panels of census data in a comparable manner in three different countries
  • To measure social mobility over two generations in three countries, and compare levels and changes in social mobility


  • To complete several academic articles comparing social mobility across three countries, contributing to a long academic debate on this issue
  • To demonstrate the potential of historical longitudinal data for social science research

Outputs and outcomes

  • Integrated set of programmes for creating linked data panels between pairs of censuses
  • Representative samples of men linked between censuses at 30 year intervals, made available as public use datasets

Project timeline

Duration: Twenty four months
Project start date: 1 February 2012
Project completion date: 31 January 2014

Sample Materials and Data Access