Higher inequality is associated with lower intergenerational mobility. More progressive taxation, higher unemployment benefits, more childcare and early childhood education, and other measures that reduce inequality promote social mobility. Tracking, ability-grouping, and pushing disadvantaged students into vocational education hinder it. Poorer students have better chances of overcoming their socioeconomic backgrounds in systems where “larger expected wage increases incentivise teachers” to make rewarding careers out of teaching.
“A Family Affair: Intergenerational Social Mobility across OECD Countries” will be published as a chapter in the OECD’s Going for Growth report on 10 March 2010; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes. ©OECD 2010