Sunday, 16 December 2007

Social mobility still at 1970s levels

Social mobility in the UK remains far lower than in most other advanced nations in spite of the government's professed determination to tackle inequality, according to research undertaken by LSE for the Sutton Trust. The potential for children born in 2000 to move to a higher income bracket than their parents is still as low as it was for children in the 1970s.

The researchres found that childern's life chances were still firmly linked to parental background. For example, children from affluent backgrounds who did badly in test scores when aged three tended to overtake poorer but more gifted children by the age of seven.

The report highlighted inequalities among those gaining university degrees. While 44 per cent of young people from the wealthiest households acquired a degree in 2002, just 10 per cent from the poorest fifth did so.

The report casts doubt on the effectiveness of government reforms to tackle class inequality. The issue of social mobility is a central pillar of Gordon Brown's plans for a Britain in which people can achieve their aspirations. In September he called for a 'genuinely meritocratic Britain.'

The underlying issue is how effective - and how proper - government intervention is in what happens in families. A good education system is unlikely to succeed if there is not parental support and encouragement to their children.

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