social mobility

Well bred dimwits get best jobs and more gongs

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green_stick_figure_stand_out_crowd_1600_wht_1832An analysis of the latest honours list shows how well public school educated men do in being awarded honours.

Research last year also showed that low achievers from an affluent background are 35% more likely to be higher earners when they grow up than bright children from poor backgrounds.

A girl who scores poorly on an IQ test at age 5 doubles her chances of earning high wages if she goes to a private school rather than a comprehensive school. A boy who scores low at the same age is 18% more likely to be in the top fifth of earners at age 42 if he goes to a private school.

It helps if your parents have a degree. It boosts boys’ earning prospects by12% and girls’ by 17% if they’re high attainers i.e. in the top 40%. For low attainers i.e. in the bottom 40%, it boosts girls’ prospects by 100% and boys’ by 69%. Children from better-off families score higher on cognitive tests e.g. IQ tests, than those from poorer backgrounds as they have better nurturing. There is even a correlation between the social background of a child’s grandfather and their career prospects.

So much for social mobility. The affluent classes have pulled up the drawbridge behind them when it comes to career opportunities.

Alan Milburn, chairman of the Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC)  said there was a glass floor as much as a glass ceiling holding people back. The commission published a report last June called Social Mobility, Opportunity Hoarding and the Glass Floor

He said “No one should criticise parents for doing their best for their children. But Britain is a long way from being a meritocratic society when the less able can do better than the more able”

The report warns that while it is politically palatable to improve the chances of bright disadvantaged people it is less so for them to accept that the better off might lose out.

When there is limited room at the top you can’t improve social mobility unless it goes both ways.  And as the Labour Force survey I posted about in November shows, there is still a class gap in earnings depending on your background.

Milburn wants the disadvantaged to be given the “support, advice and development opportunities” that better-off middle class families take for granted. He also wants to reduce what the report calls “opportunity hoarding” for example by urging employers to ensure that “internships aren’t reserved for those with the right social contacts. It’s a social scandal that all too often some demography is destiny in Britain”


You might be clever & work hard but unless you’re posh you’ll never make it big in the UK

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competition_corporate_ladder_1600_wht_6915If you are from a working class background, even though you are working in a higher managerial or professional job, you will still be worse off financially than someone in the same role whom comes from a more privileged background.

We’re talking about a “class pay gap” of over £7,000 a year on average but of £17,000 a year for doctors and more than £18,000 a year for lawyers.

This is almost as big a gap as the so-called “gender pay gap” but there is no legislation which deals with this kind of discrimination.

The research is based on the first UK employment survey to include questions on social mobility. The Labour Force Survey questioned almost 100,000 people in the 3rd quarter of 2014 and asked the occupational status of the main breadwinner in their family when they were 14 years of age. Even accounting for gender, ethnic origins and education and other factors the class pay gap is 10% (compared to a gender pay gap of 12%).

Daniel Laurison and Sam Friedman, the authors of the study both based at the LSE, say the study shows it’s not enough to get one of the top 3.5 million jobs in the UK. Once you get there there is a further “class ceiling“.

It’s well known that the medical and legal profession is dominated by children of higher managers and professionals but this also applies to IT, the police, and the armed forces.

There are two possible reasons working class people lose out even though they have the same qualifications and experience.

  1. It may be cultural bias. “Employers may consider as signs of talent or competence attributes actually rooted in privileged upbringing such as received pronunciation (RP), accents, a polished appearance or highbrow interests and hobbies” says Sam Friedman, one of the authors.
  2. It might also be because the upwardly mobile don’t seek promotion because of anxiety about fitting in.

41BixFZSMqL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Mike Savage, author of “Social Class in the 21 Century” says “Employers are not allowed to discriminate by gender, race or sexual orientation but class is not mentioned … the problem is how do you detect if someone is facing discrimination because of their class?


See also: Social Mobility the slippery ladder