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What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Social Mobility?

What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Social Mobility?

October 2020 | 120 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Featured in the Financial Times Best Books of the Year 2020

The evidence is rigorously marshalled and equally clearly illuminated. A definitive study. - Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times

In this vital new book, Britain's first Professor of Social Mobility Lee Elliot Major and Stephen Machin, reveal the causes of the UK’s low social mobility, explain why it's getting worse, and outline how we reverse this worrying trend, before it’s too late. 

It covers the history of social mobility in the UK, explores international comparisons, analyses the recent ‘dark age’ of declining absolute mobility, and investigates issues such as how family traits affect inter-generational mobility. The authors then outline what it is we should do about this pressing issue. Calling for a fundamental shift in debates about social mobility and arguing that only by establishing general principles of fairness in society can we agree the major policy reforms that can make Britain a more mobile and just society for all. 

1. Introduction
2. Background
3. What Do We Know About Social Mobility?
4. What Should We Do About Social Mobility?
5. Conclusion

The authors are two well-known British experts on the economics of social mobility. In this short, but comprehensive, survey, they illuminate the relatively poor UK record on mobility and what might be done to improve it. The evidence is rigorously marshalled and the complexities (and political difficulty) of solutions equally clearly illuminated. A definitive study.

Martin Wolf
Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times

An assured and detailed book bringing together the latest research, wide-ranging recommendations for practice and authoritative critiques of conventional wisdom. It’s a solid grounder for those new to the topic and has plenty of fresh perspective for readers who know the field well.

Sam Baars
Director of Research and Operations, Centre for Education and Youth (CfEY)

Written by two of the leading authors on social mobility in the U.K., this book is an excellent and accessible entry point into a large and complex academic literature. It covers enormous ground, from technical issues about how to measure social mobility, to reasons for the historical trends in U.K. post war social mobility. It also puts the U.K. in an international context and suggests concrete policy solutions for the future. A must read for policymakers! Written in an engaging way, I can see it will become a primer on social mobility for years to come.

Anna Vignoles, Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

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