Thursday, May 10, 2018

Less hope for the young

Children around the world have failed to get a better education than their parents and improve their economic circumstances, so generations of poor people in developing countries are becoming “trapped in a cycle of poverty determined by their circumstance at birth”, says a World Bank report. According to the report, Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World, successive generations in the postwar era, far from enjoying a better life than their parents, have been “unable to ascend the economic ladder due to inequality of opportunity”, or they have seen their progress stall in recent years.

“All parents want their children to have better lives than their own, yet the aspirations of too many people – especially poor people – are thwarted by unequal opportunities,” said the bank’s chief executive, Kristalina Georgieva.

The report monitored the education of groups born between 1940 and 1980 and found that 46 of 50 countries with the lowest rates of mobility were part of the developing world. In even the poorest nations, the report found, a proportion of people had improved their situation but the number of winners had either stayed the same or had fallen over several generations, showing economic mobility had stalled at best or gone into reverse.

On average, in the developing world, 47% of people born in the 1980s have had a better education than their parents, a figure almost unchanged from the 1960s generation. Among the 1980s generation in the average developed economy 57% have had more education than their parents (lower than the rate among the 1950s generation). More than 260 million children and young people are not in school, and 400 million have had only primary school education, according to the United Nations. It said the situation was getting worse and by 2030 half the world’s 1.6 billion children and teenagers could be out of school or failing to learn the most basic skills.

USA ranks poorly for providing opportunities to join top 25% of earners, says World Bank. The US was among the bottom 50 countries according to a test of how easy it was for people from low educational backgrounds to reach the top quarter of earners. Of those nations ranked in the bottom 50, 46 were developing world nations and four were from the developed world, including the US.

Helping white, working-class boys in England to go on to higher education should be a top priority for policymakers, according to a manifesto to widen access to universities that identifies more than 30 gaps and weaknesses in policy. Anne-Marie Canning, director of social mobility and student success at King’s College London, said that white working-class boys “are the most under-represented group in higher education” and deserved special attention, including assisting parents to ensure their children’s academic development continues after the age of 16.

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