Cumulative inequalities in life courses mean that relatively small individual (dis-)advantages at earlier stages generate larger (dis-)advantages at later stages. This discusses conceptual links between individual mobility and developments of inequality along the life course, with a special focus on the question to what extent employment careers are characterised by forms of cumulative advantage and disadvantage. Moreover, it is asked how intra-generational developments are related to inter-generational social mobility, and the paper also discusses possible associations between inequality patterns and specific institutional configurations. In its empirical part, the paper presents descriptive life-course analyses based upon data from a broad range of West German birth cohorts and covering a period of approximately 60 years. On the basis of two longitudinal datasets (survey and register data), it is investigated to what extent the employment careers of both men and women in Germany have been characterized by cumulative developments of advantage and disadvantage and how these developments have changed across cohorts.