The United States ranks number 27 globally when it comes to children living better than their parents, according to a new report on social mobility, published by the World Economic Forum and drawing on Burning Glass Technologies data.
Scandinavian countries swept the top five positions in the Global Social Mobility Index rankings, led by Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. The lowest-ranked of the 82 nations were Cameroon, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire. A number of English-speaking countries also ranked higher than the U.S.: Canada (14), Australia (16), Singapore (20), and the United Kingdom (21).
Social mobility measures whether a person’s standard of living moves up or down in their lifetime. In particular, social mobility measures whether a person has a better life than their parents, measured by income, education, health, and other metrics. A lack of social mobility means a lack of opportunities for people to better themselves.
“There are only a handful of nations with the right conditions to foster social mobility,” the Davos report said. “Furthermore, most countries underperform in four areas: fair wages, social protection, working conditions and lifelong learning.”
The report cited improved lifelong learning policies, both within educational systems and in corporate training, as a major route to improve mobility.
Burning Glass data was used to examine a key aspect of mobility: which occupations command high salaries—and where. The Burning Glass data showed that higher-paid, high–skill occupations like Dentists, Computer Research Scientists and Human Resources Managers retain their good salaries no matter where they are in the United States. Specialized Teachers, Transportation Workers, Gaming Managers, and Agricultural Engineers, however, earn significantly different wages based on their location.
To put it another way, a Human Resources Manager can move to another part of the country and still earn a good salary; an Agricultural Engineer or Gaming Manager may have to stay where they are to learn a living—or at least they have fewer choices.
The full report is available at the World Economic Forum website.