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.

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Towards social mobility-friendly policies

The chapter builds on the insights gained in the previous chapters to make policy recommendations on how to improve social mobility across and within generations. It relies on the two premises that societies should grant equal opportunities to all of their citizens and that they should attempt to protect individuals’ and households’ income trajectories against adverse personal and labour market shocks. The chapter identifies five broad policy areas on which countries should focus to improve citizen’s mobility prospects: health and family policies, education, labour market policies, tax-and-transfer policies and local and urban policies. For each of these areas, it presents a selection of best-practice programmes and policy initiatives that were recently implemented in OECD countries and emerging economies and that are suited to improve mobility outcomes.

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