Social Mobility Commission: Social Mobility Barometer 2017

Published in June 2017, the Social Mobility Commission’s first barometer report (pdf) finds a deep inter-generational divide in Britain.

Chair Alan Milburn said:

Britain’s deep social mobility problem, for this generation of young people in particular, is getting worse not better. The twentieth century promise that each generation would be better off than the preceding one is being broken. There is a stark message here for educators, employers and policy-makers. Quite simply Britain’s social mobility problem cannot be ignored.’

The Social Mobility Barometer is a poll of c.5,000 people on public attitudes to social mobility. It is published for the first time this year and there will be follow-up polls over the next four years.

It finds:

  • Nearly half of people (48%) say that where you end up in society is largely determined by who your parents are – compared with a third (32%) who say that everyone has a fair chance to get on regardless of their background.
  • It is the younger generation who feel more acutely that background determines where you end up, with around half (51%) of 18-24 year olds agreeing with this statement compared with 40% of those aged 65 and over.
  • Half of young people think the situation is getting worse with only 30% of 18-24 year olds believing it is becoming easier to move up in British society.
  • Although almost half (47%) of people overall say they are better off financially than their parents and have a better standard of living, there is a significant generational divide. For instance, when looking at their financial situation, just 34% of 25-49 year olds say they are better off than their parents, compared to 73% of those aged 65+.
  • Only a fifth of 18-24 year olds believe they have a better level of job security compared to their parents and only 17% say they have better job satisfaction.
  • Two thirds of those aged 65 and over think that in terms of housing they have had a better situation than their parents did, with only a quarter (24%) of those aged 25-49 saying the same.
  • 4 in 5 people (79%) say there is a large gap between social classes in Britain today – just 12% believe the gap is small. One third (34%) believe this gap is ‘very large’. Following on from this, 44% say that it is becoming harder for people from less advantaged backgrounds to move up in society – compared with just 18 per cent who say it is getting easier.
  • Nearly half of all Brits (49%) consider themselves working class and just over a third (36%) think of themselves as middle class and just one per cent upper class. 78% of those who grew up in a working class family classify themselves as this now.
  • Over three quarters of people (76%) say poorer people are less likely to go to a top university. Meanwhile, 66% say poorer people have less opportunity to get into a professional career.
  • A quarter (23%) of people who say that their family was working class when they were growing up, said that their social background has held them back in their working life.
  • Nearly two thirds of people feel that those who are ‘just about managing’ are not getting enough support from Government (61%) compared with 49% who say the least well off are not getting enough support.

Read the full report (pdf).