Social mobility report draws on ESRC-funded research

Siblings3 May 2012

A new report by the all-party Parliamentary group on social mobility has identified seven 'key truths' about social mobility - or the lack of it. The report has drawn on ESRC-funded research resources - including the Millennium Cohort Study, Institute for Fiscal Studies researchers Paul Johnson and Claire Crawford, and Paul Gregg from the ESRC Centre for Market and Public Organisation – in listing factors determining social mobility:

  • Development in the first three years is a crucial factor
  • Education - can break the cycle for poor/deprived children
  • Quality of teaching
  • Out-of-school opportunities and participation
  • University education - important for later opportunities
  • Later pathways - also possible
  • Personal resilience and emotional wellbeing - underpins mobility

Child development in the first three years is highlighted as 'the point of greatest leverage' for social mobility. Early home learning environment and emerging behaviour, attitudes and beliefs influenced by family background are important long-term factors for how well children perform in school. At the age of three there is already a measurable gap between children from richer and poorer backgrounds.

As the report points out, the Millennium Cohort Study shows no narrowing of the gap between ages three and five. Education can help in boosting children's chances, but the parents' own educational background is an important factor.

Later on, university is the most common path to increase earnings mobility - though not the only one. Overall, the report concludes, it is crucial to develop the social and emotional skills which give young people the necessary resilience, persistence and motivation.

ESRC evidence briefings on social mobility: