Young people are increasingly likely to slip down the social ladder as they enter adulthood because there is now so little “room at the top” of the best careers, a groundbreaking study into social mobility in the UK has found.
Downward mobility – in which people find themselves in a lower social class than the one in which they were born – has been steadily rising for both men and women throughout the second half of the last century, it concluded.
Studying the fortunes of more than 20,000 Britons born in 1946, 1958, 1970 and 1980-84, academics at the University of Oxford found that the later in the century a person was born, the more likely they were to find themselves with a reduced social standing compared with their parents.
“The people who benefited from these widening opportunities for upward mobility are the parents now,” said sociologist Dr John Goldthorpe, one of the study’s co-authors. The paper is published in the British Journal of Sociology.