Moving on up? Social mobility in the 1990s and 2000s

11th March 2011

Lee Savage

There is a general view that social mobility in Britain declined in the second half of the twentieth century, that Britain is no longer a meritocratic country where a person’s life chances are determined by effort and talent rather than by family background. Declining social mobility has been a concern for successive governments and the current coalition Government is no exception having made social mobility its top social policy priority.

Our analysis of social mobility looks at earning change for two groups of individuals who aged from their thirties to their forties over the 1990s and 2000s. This research shows that for these groups of individuals:

  • Earnings mobility increased modestly in the 2000s compared to the 1990s.
  • Long-range upwards mobility (defined as moving upwards 3 or more deciles) increased by 22 percent in the 2000s in comparison to the 1990s.
  • The chances of moving upwards from the bottom of the earnings distribution to the very top remained very low but did rise, increasing from 3 percent in the 1990s to 6 percent in the 2000s.

Back to publication list

Associated Downloads

icon of a pdf

Social Mobility Press Notice

10 March 2011
File type: pdf | Size: 293.6 KB

icon of a pdf

Social Mobility Summary

10 March 2011
File type: pdf | Size: 539.7 KB

icon of a pdf

Social Mobility Final

30 March 2011
File type: pdf | Size: 1.1 MB

Other related Reports

Snakes and Ladders

Date: 22 September 2011 | Author: Lee Savage

Share this