Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Education systems have little impact on social mobility

17.02.2006


Current debate about the UK government’s proposed education reforms may be based on a false premise. Recent research suggests that education policy by itself contributes little to the rate at which people move between social classes, according to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).



Comprehensive schooling is neither less nor more effective at promoting social mobility than a selective system, says the research carried out by Dr Cristina Iannelli and Professor Lindsay Paterson of the University of Edinburgh.

If changes to the structure of schooling could have an effect, then it should show in Scotland, where all selective schools in the public sector were abolished by the mid-1970s, they point out. Instead, they found that educational reforms had no impact either way.


While education may have provided the oil that lubricated upward mobility, the biggest effect has come through changes in the jobs people do, and how employment is structured.

The report says that though education has an intermediary role between where people start out and where they end up, its effect on social mobility has weakened. This suggests that middle class parents must be finding other ways to give their children an advantage in life.

Analysing data from major sources including the Scottish Household Survey, the researchers also found that while there remains a great deal of movement in social status - mostly upwards - that trend is slowing.

Dr Iannelli said: "Upward mobility has been common for at least five decades, and the parents of people born since the 1960s have themselves benefited from it to such an extent that there is less room for their children to move further up. "At the same time, there is also little evidence of any increase in people slipping down the social ladder."

By contrast, the report points to policies such as the Swedish kind of redistributive social democracy, or the social market of the type found in France and the Netherlands, as necessary for reducing inequalities of mobility.

They did, however, find some reduction in this inequality when people born in Scotland at the start of the 20th century were compared with those from after 1950.

The major difference between the sexes is that women are more likely to have lower non-manual jobs, while men tend to be in skilled-manual work. So women whose fathers were in manual employment are more likely to be in a non-manual job than men from similar backgrounds.

But Dr Iannelli said: "We found also gender differences within industrial sectors. Women’s main opportunity for upward mobility has been in services such as finance, health and education. However, women depend more on social background if they are to reach a professional position in something like banking or insurance."

Looking to the future, the study sets out two possible scenarios. One is that if educational expansion continues, inequalities will start to fall significantly, particularly if jobs go to people on merit.

Alternatively, as middle-class families seek to prevent their children falling down the social ladder, there might be political pressure to distinguish between the value of educational results at the top end - for example, through some universities charging higher fees than others, a policy which the Scottish Parliament has resisted.

Dr Iannelli said: "The best labour market rewards might then go to graduates from the highest status universities populated by the most middle-class students. In such circumstances, social inequality would at best remain unchanged, and could start to worsen for the first time in at least half a century."

Alexandra Saxon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Internet use in class tied to lower test scores
16.12.2016 | Michigan State University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>