Aha! Something of a gotcha moment here I think.
Men\’s chances of rising up the social scale in Britain have stalled because of greater competition from women and a slower rate of growth for top jobs, a study published yesterday reported.
The studies from which comparisons of social mobility (when in fact they mean economic mobility for they measure wages but that\’s another story) specifically and deliberately exclude women.
We focus here on sons so that results are less directly influenced by women’s labour market participation decisions
Now, take a step back and think about what is the largest change in the labour market of the past three or four decades? It\’s the entry of women into it on equal (or very nearly equal, as compared to the past) terms. The majority of undergraduates, the majority of trainee lawyers, the majority of trainee doctors, are now women. That\’s a vastly larger change, I would submit, than the decline of unions or whatever else one might use to explain social mobility.
So these studies which show a decline in social mobility are not really very accurate. They\’re measuring a decline in social mobility for men, yes. But that is then being interpreted as a decline in total social mobility, which isn\’t actually what is being measured at all. And the decline in male social mobility is being described, but without reference to the largest change in the labour market, the rise to equality of women.
Soi perhaps the next time someone starts to whiffle on about the decline in social mobility, perhaps the appropriate response should be that they\’re talking bollocks? For they\’re not taking account of the huge rise in womens\’* social mobility?
* To a large extent, before these labour market changes of recent decades, women\’s social mobility was promoted by marriage. No, I\’ve no figures, but I would guess that this has decreased as the potential for doing it under their own steam has risen. Certainly there are those who insist that the rise in income inequality at the household level has to do with assortative mating, professionals marrying professionals, to a larger extent than in the past.