By Ryan Velez
In the land people still associate with royalty, in some ways, not that much has changed. An article from Vice Impact shows that across the U.K., the wealth you are born with plays a bigger role in your future success than how hard you apply yourself in school. Some groups are working hard to try and fix the issue, though.
"Decades of educational policy have completely overlooked that younger generations of men and women now face less favorable mobility prospects than did their parents—or their grandparents despite having earned higher qualifications," Dr. John Goldthorpe – a leading sociologist at the University of Oxford and author of the study Social Class Mobility in Modern Britain: Changing Structure, Constant Process – told VICE Impact. "That is, they are less likely to experience upward mobility and more likely to experience downward mobility.” While investments in education should help in theory, rich parents are just using their social and financial capital to circumvent them.
"Education is important, but it is clearly not enough to level the playing field, or to lift people up from poorer backgrounds." Dr. Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, a grassroots organization that campaigns for economic equality, told VICE Impact. "In many professions, privately educated students receive significantly higher pay than their state school counterparts, even when they've received exactly the same degree from the same university. There's also a huge class pay gap in many top jobs in the UK." What the results show is that in absolute terms, the investments in education, like minority entry quotas and pre-school programs for disadvantaged children seem to have paid dividends. But when put in relative terms, nothing has changed.
As a result, investments in quality of living, social and economic conditions may need to go hand in hand with education investment. "A progressive tax system that more effectively taxes wealth and rents (including a progressive property tax), a system of social security that better supports low-income families, policies to promote employee ownership, a substantial house building programme - there is a long list of political measures that can be taken, providing there is also political will." says Wyporska.
Goldthorpe ends his study with the idea that policymakers may be where things are falling apart. “Perhaps policymakers committed to the idea of "greater opportunity for all" would do well to focus their efforts on reducing social inequalities of condition and on creating rising demand within the economy for personnel in high-level managerial and professional roles – and then leave social mobility to look after itself.”