OECD Papers on Well-being and Inequalities

This series features working papers on the measurement agenda for well-being, inclusion, sustainability and equal opportunity as well as papers seeking to deepen the understanding of the drivers of these issues, the ways in which they interact and how they evolve. These papers are prepared by OECD staff, external experts or by outside consultants working on OECD projects.


Current challenges to social mobility and equality of opportunity

The current economic environment, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing megatrends, such as digitalisation and the green transformation, threaten equality of opportunity and social mobility for current and future generations. High-quality cross-country evidence is necessary to implement policies to mitigate these threats, but critical data gaps remain.

This paper provides updated indicators on equality of opportunity and social mobility across OECD countries and discusses ongoing challenges and opportunities to break down barriers to social mobility and promote equal opportunities for all. It also reviews four areas where more evidence is needed to inform effective policies: the extent of opportunity gaps across population groups; how unequal upbringings affect chances later in life; how growing economic insecurity and large wealth inequalities limit social mobility; and unequal distribution of opportunities across cities and regions. Work in these areas will inform the agenda of the OECD Observatory on Social Mobility and Equal Opportunity.


Keywords: equal opportunity, social mobility, inequality, discrimination
JEL: J71: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor Discrimination / Discrimination; D31: Microeconomics / Distribution / Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions; D63: Microeconomics / Welfare Economics / Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement; J15: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination; J16: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination; J62: Labor and Demographic Economics / Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers / Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility
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