OECD report: A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility

There is a growing perception that social mobility has declined and growing pessimism about the chances of improving one’s own financial situation over a lifetime.

This is according to a June 2018 report by OECD on social mobility across countries and the economic, societal and political consequences.

The report shows that there is a particular a lack of social mobility at the bottom and at the top of the ladder, with “sticky floors” preventing upward mobility for many and “sticky ceilings” associated with opportunity hoarding at the top.

Key findings include:

  • Over a four year period, 60% of people remained stuck in the lowest 20% income bracket, while 70% remained at the top
  • 4 in 10 people with low-educated parents have lower secondary education themselves, and only 1 in 10 continues on to tertiary education – compared to 2/3 of children with high-educated parents
  • In an average OECD country it would take around four to five generations for children from the bottom earnings decile to attain the level of mean earnings
  • Numeracy scores are almost 20% higher for those with parents with higher socio-economic status, representing more than three years of equivalent additional schooling
  • Income inequality does not foster mobility.

Recommendations in the report are based around designing policies to grant all children equal opportunities, and mitigating the negative effects of income volatility.

Read the report in full.

Read the main findings (pdf).

See the infographics (pdf).