Social mobility: a literature review

Social mobility: a literature review
Document type
Literature review
Crawford, Claire; Johnson, Paul; Machin, Steve
Date of publication
1 March 2011
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Business and management
Material type

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This paper reviews social mobility policies. Policies aimed at improving social mobility are often targeted on the most disadvantaged individuals and specifically the least skilled. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this may not be the most efficient way of improving mobility. Evidence on skill complementarity suggests that investing in individuals with only very low levels of skill will be costly, and that achieving gains in their cognitive skills in particular will be difficult. For the individual however some of these investments may still mean an increase in wage.6 Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that the UK labour market is 'hollowing out', i.e. that there are fewer jobs in the middle, though the picture does look somewhat different if one considers jobs by skill level rather than income level and this evidence is still contentious.

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