Brotherhood of St Laurence

A broken social elevator? how to promote social mobility / OECD.

By: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Publisher: Paris OECD Publishing, 2018Description: 351 p. : ill. PDFISBN: 9789264301085 (PDF); 9789264301078 (pbk.)Subject(s): Social mobility | Income Mobility | Income Distribution | Social Policy | EquityDDC classification: 305.5 OECD
List(s) this item appears in: Life Chances
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Includes bibliographical references.

Executive summary -- 1. Overview -- 2. Income dynamics and income mobility over the life course -- 3. Time is money: what drives income mobility? -- 4. From one generation to the next: mobility of socio-economic status -- 5. How parental background affects chances early in life: the transmission of health and educational outcomes -- 6. Towards social mobility-friendly policies.

This report provides new evidence on social mobility in the context of increased inequalities of income and opportunities in OECD and selected emerging economies. It covers the aspects of both social mobility between parents and children and of personal income mobility over the life course, and their drivers. The report shows that social mobility from parents to offspring is low across the different dimensions of earnings, education, occupation and health, and that the same prevails for personal income mobility over the life course. There is in particular a lack of mobility at the bottom and at the top of the social ladder – with “sticky floors” preventing upward mobility for many and “sticky ceilings” associated with opportunity hoarding at the top. The lack of social mobility has economic, societal and political consequences. This report shows that there is space for policies to make societies more mobile and protect households from adverse income shocks. It discusses the options and measures that policy makers can consider how to improve social mobility across and within generations. “All human beings are born equal. But on the following day, they no longer are,” said French author Jean Renard in 1907. This is because sticky floors and ceilings–or rags to rags and riches to riches–define the bottom and top income distributions. Today, it takes four to five generations, on average, for children from the poorest 10% of the population to reach median income levels. Meanwhile, about 50% of children of wealthy parents will themselves remain rich in countries like Germany and the US. Worse, every four years, a fifth of the middle class’ poorest fall down to the bottom of the income distribution while its upper half enjoys much greater security, as shown in A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility. What’s more, in countries like Brazil and South Africa where income inequality is high, there is a state of “permanent inequality”, with an underlying feeling that social mobility is but a broken promise. Indeed, low upward mobility increases people’s sense that their voices do not matter and that the system is neither fair nor meritocratic. Still, mobility is not all about money. It can range from jobs to education and health, and it changes when viewed through each of these lenses. These distortions create unique situations within each country: in places like Japan and Korea, educational mobility is higher than income mobility, but it’s the other way around in Norway and Spain. In the US, job mobility is higher than earnings mobility, while in Finland it’s the reverse, with lower educational mobility on top. Yet there is nothing inevitable about socio-economic status being passed down between generations. Equal access to quality education is one way to enhance social mobility: countries that spend more on public education tend to achieve higher educational mobility. The same goes for health. Moreover, progressive taxation on wealth, inheritance and combatting tax avoidance leads to less sticky ceilings, while money transfers or benefits to low-income families and improving the school-to-work transition unsticks the floors. And as the report shows, policies that address the likes of residential segregation and sudden unemployment, or aim to improve the work-home balance can enhance social mobility across the board. ©OECD Observer No 314, Q2 2018

Item type Current library Call number Status Notes Date due Barcode
Book Brotherhood of St Laurence
305.5 OECD (Browse shelf (Opens below)) Available BROTHERHOOD STAFF PLEASE SEE LIBRARY FOR ELECTRONIC COPY 303694

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