A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility

image of A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility

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.

English Also available in: French


This introductory chapter gives an overview of the entire report drawing on the analyses carried out in the five subsequent chapters. It documents that a growing share of people is concerned about falling prospects of social mobility in their society. The report provides an in-depth review of social mobility between generations along the key dimensions of income, occupation, education and health. It also looks at patterns, driving forces and trends in income mobility over the life course. The report identifies low levels of mobility for those at the bottom as well as for those at the top of the distribution – “sticky floors” and “sticky ceilings”. It discusses the implications of low social mobility and how policies can promote equal opportunities for all and secure sustainable income trajectories for individuals and households.

English Also available in: French


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