[lit-ideas] Re: Didn't I tell you so?

  • From: Judith Evans <judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2006 16:48:45 +0100 (BST)

Sorry, my

> and social mobility is decreasing in the
> US. 

was of course rebutted by the piece I quoted. Here's
another piece, it says social mobility is worse in the
US but is stable, whereas in the UK, it's declining. I

Not only does Britain have one of the worst records of
social mobility in the eight countries examined, but
social mobility in Britain has actually declined.
There was less mobility for those born in 1970
compared to those born in 1958. Wealth was more
clearly linked to educational attainment in the UK
than in any of the other countries, with children from
poor backgrounds trapped in the worst schools and less
likely to continue their studies.

Even so, the US has the worst record for social
mobility. As the authors point out, although the
notion that the US is ?the land of opportunity? still
persists, such a belief is misplaced.

While parental income is less important in determining
educational achievement, the composition and level of
economic activity in the US is such that higher
education is the key to a much wider range of
well-paid jobs than it is in Britain. Race is also a
significant factor, due to the social position of most
black families. Children of black parents are far less
socially mobile than white children.

The US and Britain have both experienced rising income
inequality. But only Britain has seen a decline in
social mobility between 1958 and 1970, while in the US
social mobility has been static. As the authors
explained, ?This indicates that what happened in
Britain is exceptional, even when compared with a
country experiencing similar changes in inequality.?
The explanation for the widening social inequality in
education in Britain?and why it has increased more
than in the US?is bound up with the abandonment by
successive Conservative and Labour governments of the
progressive social welfare policies implemented in the
UK in the immediate postwar period. These had an
albeit extremely limited moderating impact on the
degree of social polarisation. Though higher education
has continued to expand in order to meet the demands
of industry for a skilled and educated workforce, this
has been accompanied and funded by a sharp reduction
in the level of grants to support students while at
university. Students? rights to claim unemployment
benefits and social security during the vacation were
terminated. Soon after taking up office in 1997, the
Labour government abolished grants and introduced
tuition fees. Thus, with the change in the funding
arrangements for students, the expansion of higher
education that was trumpeted as the bedrock of a new
?meritocracy??where every individual would have the
right to prosper as a result of their hard work and
talents?actually served to increase rather than reduce
social inequality.


Judy Evans, Cardiff, UK

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