A social mobility White Paper: fair chances in an unequal society?
All of the international evidence shows that enabling social mobility is contingent upon reducing inequality. Where the rich and the poor are more equal, the advantages conferred by wealth are less and the barriers to progression are reduced. To quote the OECD, most recently in November of last year:
Countries with more equal incomes…tend also to have greater differences in earnings between fathers and sons: Denmark, Finland and Norway. Conversely, there is less earnings mobility between generations in countries where income inequality is higher: Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
But today’s 108 page White Paper on social mobility ignores these findings. It only refers to class inequality twice, makes no reference to its central role preventing mobility and proposes a strategy based upon improving public services. While these proposals may lead to a range of helpful new funding streams, this spending will come at the cost of an honest debate about the economic and political choices which continue to support a status quo where inequality and unequal chances are inevitable.