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Prime Minister's Strategy Unit




LIFE CHANCES & SOCIAL MOBILITY :
AN OVERVIEW OF THE EVIDENCE


Stephen Aldridge, 30th March 2004


Note: this paper contains an analysis of relevant data and research to
facilitate discussion. It does not represent Government policy

Date 1

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CONTENTS
1. What do we mean by life chances and social mobility?

2. What are the facts about life chances in Britain?

3. What are the main determinants or drivers of life chances?

4. What are the implications for Government policy?

5. Issues for discussion




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WHAT DO WE MEAN BY LIFE CHANCES AND SOCIAL
MOBILITY?
Social mobility describes the
movement or opportunities for
movement between different social
groups and the advantages and
disadvantages that go with this e.g.
Equality of income. Opportunities for social
opportunity & Fairness in mobility are one dimension of an
social…

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CONTENTS
1. What do we mean by life chances and social mobility?

2. What are the facts about life chances in Britain?
­ Incomes and employment
­ Health
­ Vulnerability to crime
­ Other aspects of quality of life


3. What are the main determinants or drivers of life chances?…

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DIFFERENCES IN THE QUALITY OF LIFE ENJOYED BY
DIFFERENT GROUPS ARE APPARENT IN A RANGE OF
INDICATORS

Quality of life varies with:
­ socio-economic status or social class
­ ethnic group
­ gender
­ geography (where you live)

This is reflected in indicators such as:
­ levels of income and…

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OVER THE PAST 20-25 YRS THE INCOMES OF THE BETTER-OFF
HAVE RISEN FASTER THAN OTHER GROUPS RESULTING IN
INCREASING NUMBERS EXPERIENCING RELATIVE POVERTY
Growth in real household disposable incomes before housing costs Proportions of households with incomes below 40%, 50%
and 60% of the median
£ per week, 2001 prices…

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THOSE AT THE TOP AND BOTTOM OF THE INCOME
DISTRIBUTION ARE LESS LIKELY TO MOVE BETWEEN INCOME
GROUPS THAN THOSE IN THE MIDDLE

Around half the
Where in the income distribution individuals spent the majority of
individuals in the
their time over the period 1991-2000
bottom quintile of the
Original…

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PEOPLE IN UNSKILLED OR SEMI-SKILLED OCCUPATIONS ARE
AT MUCH HIGHER RISK OF UNEMPLOYMENT THAN THOSE IN
PROFESSIONAL AND MANAGERIAL OCCUPATIONS
Unemployment rates by previous occupation 2002, %


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4 Women
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THE UK HAS HIGH RATES OF GENDER INEQUALITY
COMPARED WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
Gender inequality: pay and employment "gaps"

100%
(av. female gross hourly earnings as % av. male




95%
Portugal

Italy Belgium
gross hourly earnings)




Denmark
90%
Gender Pay Gap




France
Greece
Spain
85% EU15
Sweden


Ireland Germany
80% Netherlands…

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ETHNIC MINORITY GROUPS ARE MORE LIKELY TO
HAVE LOWER INCOMES
Distribution of equivalised disposable income* of head of household by ethnic group, 2000/01

100%
Average weekly men's pay
90%
2000 £
80%

70% Indian 307
60% White 297
50% Other Black 287
40% Chinese 264
30%
Black 254
Caribbean
20%…

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