Saturday, November 12, 2005

Declining social mobility

A recent study by researchers from the London School of Economics provides some important background to the education debate - and many other debates:

Jo Blanden, Paul Gregg and Steve Machin found that social mobility in Britain - the way in which someone's adult outcomes are related to their circumstances as a child - is lower than in Canada, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. And while the gap in opportunities between the rich and poor is similar in Britain and the US, in the US it is at least static, while in Britain it is getting wider.

A careful comparison reveals that the USA and Britain are at the bottom with the lowest social mobility. Norway has the greatest social mobility, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Germany is around the middle of the two extremes, and Canada was found to be much more mobile than the UK.

Comparing surveys of children born in the 1950s and the 1970s, the researchers went on to examine the reason for Britain's low, and declining, mobility. They found that it is in part due to the strong and increasing relationship between family income and educational attainment.

The page I have linked to offers a .pdf of the full report and links to copious press coverage.

1 comment:

Andrew Toye said...

This rather shatters some icons of market fundamentalism - that we should not worry too much about inequality of wealth and incomes because there is "equality of opportunity". It also shatters the illusion of a "classless society". Why will this government not recognise what is staring them in the face?