Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World

While the gender gaps are closing, mobility has stalled for the last three decades, according to a report by the World Bank Group.

The report "Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World" was published by the World Bank Group in May 2018.

According to the report, generations of poor people in developing countries are trapped in a cycle of poverty determined by their circumstance at birth and unable to ascend the economic ladder due to inequality of opportunity.

Mobility has stalled for the last 30 years, says the report, which tracks economic mobility between parents and their children through the prism of education, a critical asset that influences an individual’s lifetime earnings. It looks at people born between 1940 and 1980, and finds that 46 out of 50 countries with the lowest rates of mobility from the bottom to the top are in the developing world.

Closing gender gaps

Gender gaps, however, are closing with girls in high-income countries now out-performing boys in tertiary education and catching up in the developing world. In the not too distant future, the share of girls with more education than their parents will exceed the equivalent share for boys globally.

The data show that, on average, upward mobility from the bottom has declined and the numbers of people remaining trapped at the bottom has increased in developing economies. For individuals born in poorer households, the opportunity to climb up the ladder is narrowing in many economies in which average living standards are already much lower compared with high-income economies.

But the report also finds huge variation in the extent of intergenerational mobility in the developing world. For example, only 12 percent of the people born in the 1980s in the Central African Republic, Guinea and South Sudan have achieved education levels higher than their parents, compared with 89 percent of people from South Korea and 85 percent from Thailand.

More information and download the report: Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World

(The World Bank/ile)

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