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Social Policy in a Cold Climate

Social mobility and life chances

Jo Blanden, John Hills, Ruth Lupton and Kitty Stewart

Increasing ‘social mobility’- as a marker for achieving ‘equality of opportunity’- was one of the objectives of the Labour government, and it has also emerged as a core aim of the Coalition government. Indeed, the Deputy Prime Minister has stated that, ‘Social mobility is what characterises a fair society, rather than a particular level of income equality. Inequalities become injustices when they are fixed; passed on, generation to generation’. Work under this theme examines:

  • How has social mobility been changing in the more recent past than has been examined before?;For this we used data for ages 42/38 from new sweeps of the NCDS and BCS70 birth cohort studies, as well as the British Household Panel Survey/Understanding Society.
  • What is happening to leading indicators of how it may change in the future? Here we used data from the 2012 sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) to examine  the evolving relationship between the child’s family background and their performance on ability tests, and data from the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile to assess the early impact of Coalition policy on the life chances of the most recently born generation. We will review and report on evidence of the effect of changes in the school system on access and social segregation.

The first paper from this theme was published in January 2014 'Education and Intergenerational Mobility: Help or Hindrance?' by Jo Blanden and Lindsey Macmillan. We launched this paper at an event on Education, Equity and Social Mobility. A summary paper, full presentations and an audio recording of the event are available here.

In 2015 we published a summary of New research evidence on social mobility and educational attainment. This was written by John Hills and based on research by Jo Blanden, Claire Crawford, Ellen Greaves, Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan, Abigail McKnight, Luke Sibieta and Anna Vignoles.

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