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Social mobility is a social responsibility
What is the key to upward social mobility? A popular response to this question is that motivation and hard work will lead to success, regardless of your circumstances. This belief is directly expressed by the entrepreneur David Baker, when he talks about how he has raised his children:
“Motivation [...] and drive is probably one of the highest things that you can get into a child, and they can probably overcome everything else if they’ve got that.”
Though this belief is in some ways inspirational, it is also dangerous. The main problem is that this strong emphasis on individual traits discounts the societal factors that also influence a person’s ability to succeed in life. These societal factors are evident in the 2016 State of the Nation report, which explores the obstacles to upward social mobility within Great Britain.
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The report specifically point to three major factors that have a negative impact on social mobility.
The first factor is educational inequality. Children from poor families are significantly less likely to receive a higher education than children from more well-to-do families. Furthermore, even if they do reach an institute of higher learning, they often struggle to make a living during their studies.
The second factor is occupational inequality. Within some professional fields, it is simply much more difficult to earn a living wage compared to others.This further leads to the emergence of the ‘treadmill family’ issue, where people work full-time, but barely earn enough to scrape by.
The third factor is regional inequality. People who live near major population centres tend to do better - economically and academically - than people who live in more rural regions of Britain.
Note that none of these inequalities are new, but they have recently become worse: “The s…