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1 Chapter 3: Education and Social Mobility


Table of Contents Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter 1: Introduction 2: Schools and Socialisation 3: Education and Social Mobility 4: Education and Occupation 5: Peer Group 6 : Home 7 : Academic Underachievers 8 : Teaching Profession

LEARNING OUTCOMES When you complete this chapter you should be able to: Explain the meaning of social mobility Differentiate between ascription and achievement Describe how education facilitates social mobility. Discuss how education has facilitated social mobility of women Compare intergenerational mobility across countries Illustrate how the resources parents transmit to their children affect their socioeconomic standing

Preamble Society based on ascription and achievement What is social mobility? Upward and downward mobility Education facilitating social mobility Education facilitating social mobility of women Social mobility and earnings Intergenerational mobility Government intervention and intergenerational mobility

Key Terms Summary References

2 Chapter 3: Education and Social Mobility PREAMBLE

Chapter 3 focuses on the issue of mobility and the role of education in facilitating both economic and social mobility. Different types of social mobility are examined and how schooling influences both upward and downward mobility. Also discussed is how education has bridged the gap in gender differences in terms of social mobility and impacted intergenerational mobility.


In the novel, Animal Farm by George Orwell, the character Snowball makes the statement: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. This may be reflect of society a thousand years ago, but has it changed today! Status describes the positioning of individuals or groups in their society. The fundamental base can be what someone DOES, or what someone IS. All societies have some form of social stratification where people are grouped based on kinship ties, family prestige, ethnicity, gender, age, religious groups, caste and so forth. Social stratification is the dividing of society into levels based on wealth, ancestry, position, function, power and so forth. In his book The Study of Man, published in 1936, anthropologist Ralph Linton coined the terms ascribed status and achieved status. Society based on ascription assigns its people into groups or categories from birth. The most common criteria for stratifying people into groups is age, sex, family relationships, ancestry or class. In most instances individuals remain in the assigned grouping and are not able to shift or move to another grouping.

Feudal Society in Japan (15th century) Daimyo (Lords) Samurai (Warrior) Farmers Artisan Merchants Others (actors, outcasts)

Caste System in India Brahmin (priest / scholars) Kshatriya (rulers / warriors /landlords) Vaisyas (farmers / merchants) Sudra (peasants / labourers) Dalit (menial work)

Table 3.1 Stratification of Society based on Ascription

3 Chapter 3: Education and Social Mobility For example, in 17th century feudal Japan, society was stratified as follows: daimyo (lords), samurai (warrior), farmers, artisan, merchants and others (actors and outcasts). An individual born into the samurai class, will remain a warrior for the rest of his life and cannot aspire to be someone else (see Table 5.1). There were special schools for the children of each social class. In the caste system in India which originated from ancient times, society is classified into five main groups or varnas based on the type of jobs done and inherited social status. According to Linton, ascription was practiced in societies because it facilitated preparation of individuals from birth for their role and function in society future. The assumption is that the earlier the training begins for a particular class, the more successful it will be for that individual. It also proved to be an efficient and inexpensive way to solve problems within each group, category or subsystem. On the other hand, in a society based on achievement, individuals can strive through entrepreneurial activities, industry and acquisition of knowledge, move upwards to a high place in society or to another profession or vocation. For example, a person may be born in a low income farming family but with education can aspire and move up and achieve middle class status. In countries such as the United States, Finland and Germany, people are measured by how successful they are in their jobs and what an individual has done. It is common for people to interact with people relating to their function, profession, role or position. These "powerful positions" are held by people because of their skills, knowledge and talents. WHAT IS SOCIAL MOBILITY? Aldridge (20023) defines social mobility as ...the movement or opportunities for movement between different social classes or occupational groups. (p.189). An open or fluid society is one where individuals are able to move freely, as a result of factors such as aptitude, intelligence, ability and effort, up the social scale, regardless of their social position in childhood (Heath and Payne, 1999). As such, the extent to which social mobility is possible is often used as one proxy measure of societal fairness. The importance of the concept of social mobility as a measure of social fairness has increased, being seen as a measure of equality of opportunity in a world where outcomes are not equal. Social mobility, therefore, is closely associated with related concepts such as inequality, social exclusion and inclusion, class and social stratification where mobility refers to movement between different and unequal social groups, or classes and between exclusion and inclusion. As Miller (2005) argues, chances for social mobility are one aspect of the concept of equality of opportunity, which itself is, in turn, one of the four foundational principles of social justice, alongside equal citizenship rights, a guaranteed set of minimum social rights and fair distribution of additional social rights that are outside of citizenship and the absolute social minimum. The term social mobility refers to the ability of someone to move from one position in the social order to another, from one class or socio-economic status to another. Social mobility is seen as a mechanism for an individual to achieve his personal goals. Social mobility can be measured by comparing an individuals present position with his parents. If the individuals present income, lifestyle, and working

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condition are better than his parents then he is said to display an upward mobility. For example, if he holds a professional job such doctor or lawyer whereas his father was a truck driver and a school dropout, you can say that he has displayed an upward mobility. On the other hand, if he leads a lesser comfortable life compared to his parents then he is said to display downward mobility. For example, despite having parents who are professionals, the individual works as a bricklayer in a construction site. Social mobility allows people to move up or down the class ladder. The opportunity for improving ones life or falling below the class ladder is a major force that moves people to go far in school and to work hard at their studies. A child may be born into a family that present obstacles that may deprive him of the chance of success in life or he may be born into a family that provides him all the opportunities to succeed in life. MOVING UP THE SOCIAL LADDER In a closed society or immobile society, it is very difficult or virtually impossible for individuals to move upwards or even downward from their class of origin. In these societies, members hardly move and remain forever in the social class in which he or she was born. An example will be the caste society in India and other similar societies practicing the caste system, and ethnic minorities subjected to social barriers or created social barriers. Individuals from lower socio-economic groups have less access to certain social and educational facilities and jobs. On the other hand, in an open society, individuals are able to ascend and descend along the social mobility ladder. Societies can be said to be open or mobile and closed or immobile depending on the extent that the individual is able to move along the social ladder. An example will be the present modern society where the economy changes ever so often that an individual who is a supervisor in a factory may lose his job the next day where he is retrenched because of the economic recession. However, social mobility can only happen if conditions allow a working class person to move up to middle and upper class. Havighurst (1961) suggested that social mobility may be facilitated by the following steps: The use of technology to replace semi-skilled and unskilled employees. With the use of modern technology, there will be a demand for technical and highly skilled workers and this would mean better paid positions. A move from labour intensive, unskilled jobs to jobs requiring technical training. For example, change from agriculture base to manufacturing industry, faming with human labour to farming with machinery.

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Case Study: Indian Governments Policy on Social Mobility The Indian government adopts a policy of positive discrimination or affirmative action termed as reservation towards the backward classes of society. In accordance to this policy, 15% of government jobs and 15% of students admitted to universities must be reserved for individuals from the scheduled caste or Dalits. These were people who have been disadvantaged because of the long history of discrimination, socially, economically and politically. Another group of people given priority were the scheduled tribes or minorities where 7.5% of government jobs and places in educational institutions were reserved for this group. Along with the central government, the state governments of India too follow a policy of reservation. Different states have different figures of reservation based on the population composition of each state. While most Indians support the policy, tensions have arisen because high caste communities feel discriminated against by the government. Large number of high caste members have to compete for a few places reserved for them. At times, reserved positions remain unmanned because there were few candidates from the lower caste causing further tension between the castes. Source: S. Sarker, J. Manor, M. Weiner, P. Bardhab, A. Basu & A. Kohli (2001). The Success of Indias Democracy. London: Cambridge University Press.

Move into industries that require highly technical trained and well-paid workers. Ensuring high productivity so as to increase salaries. This in turn encourages people to spend on services provided by professional people. This increases the mobility of such professions. Providing free land and incentive to start business. This creates owners of wealth. Provide free and easy access to education that is based on achievement rather than of birth (see Case Study of India). Applications for middle and upper status jobs to be based on achievement rather than on birth. Allowing upward mobility to lower classes, thus increasing their living standards. This in turn enables them to provide better education and health for their children, increase future upward mobility.

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a) What is the difference between a society based on ascription and society based on achievement? b) Explain the difference between upward and downward social mobility? c) How can social mobility be facilitated according to Havighurst (1961)?

EDUCATION FACILITATING SOCIAL MOBILITY There are various ways of facilitating social mobility, such as political power, marriage, family affiliations and education. But the most sought after is education which is more readily available to more people as educational facilities are expanded all over the world. Education is regarded as the primary channel of mobility as it is: High educational achievement is the aspiration of most people. Few would question about a persons integrity when he has high academic qualification. Education has high relationship with income and occupation. The higher the educational level, the more prestigious the occupation, leading to higher annual income. This in turn is associated with property, prestige, and power. Formal education is closely linked to upward social mobility and in this aspect, schools play an important role in sorting out individuals into their prospective levels. This is done through the system of examinations, supervision and promotions. Thus, education can assist the movement of persons into the top positions in society or elite mobility. Hence, formal education has become a prerequisite for many established professions such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers and so forth. How does education enhance social mobility? First, education plays the role of a mechanism whereby social class positions are maintained across generations. A person from a higher social class is more likely to have be better educated which will enable him or her to maintain social class position. Second, education acts as a mechanism for social mobility. In this case, access to education is the key in determining the extent of mobility an individual can aspire in society. However, this is only possible if everyone

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gets an equal education; thus providing an avenue for mobility among the disadvantaged. For this group of people, education serves to move upwards or to reduce the likelihood of downward mobility. Education has a functional value as well as a symbolic value. What is meant by functional value? Education is said to have a functional value when a person attends university to study education and upon graduation becomes a teacher. Or a person who studies pharmacy and becomes a pharmacist. Here, education has a functional value. What is meant by symbolic value? You could have a situation where a person who graduates with a degree in engineering but chooses not want to work. Instead he uses the degree as a symbol of status. Similarly, an uneducated man works hard and earns money to send his daughter to study in a private college. When his daughter graduates and gets good job, the daughters education is seen as a symbol of value. In the United States, after 1900, parents were convinced that educating their children would open opportunities for better jobs and salaries. Schools and higher education institutions began developing and designing programmes to meet the needs of the job market. Student enrolment in technical and engineering courses increased because there were more job opportunities in factories and industries. In short, stress was on the functional value of education. Great Britain and Australia also stressed on the functional value of education in the 1940s with emphasis on educating children at the secondary and tertiary levels. Prior to this, societies in these countries believed that people could be successful in politics, business, and public service even without formal education. EDUCATION FACILITATING SOCIAL MOBILITY OF WOMEN

Though women in many societies continue to work taking care of the home and working in various kinds of agricultural occupations, the trend is changing with more women seeking work for pay outside the home. These changes have been associated with womens increasing educational attainment, increasing demand for services provided by traditionally female occupations, changes in family and life patterns and changing social norms. For example, in the United States, in 1890 fewer than 5% of women of working-age group were in the labour force and in the 1990s

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about 60% of women of working-age group were in the labour force, and the most striking change in the labour force is the increasing participation of married women. The more education a woman has, the more likely she is to be in the labour force (Mandelson, 1996). Education was the key factor for women to be employed, especially when higher education is being made more accessible to women. For example, in 1970 only one-third of women were pursing bachelors degree in the United States in 2000, this increased to 58%. With expanded opportunities for women in higher education, more women sought and attained high-status professional degrees in law, medicine, engineering, management and the sciences. With increasing life spans, women can realise higher returns on their educational investment. Therefore, increasing education attracts more women to the labour force, and women in the labour force may in turn seek more education (Mandelson, 1996, p.5). Besides education, other factors also contributed to more women seeking work and moving upwards in the ladder of success. Society supported womens right to equal pay for equal work, to hold public office and to hold multiple roles as housewives, mothers and members of the labour force. For example, in the United States the discrepancy in pay between men and women was virtually eliminated in the mid-1980s. Another factor explaining more women joining the work-force is the increasing demand for workers in the service, manufacturing and other office-related jobs which tend to be predominantly female. Also, several countries introduced antidiscrimination legislation against women and laws which protected women in the workplace which further led to more women seeking jobs in factories, hospitals, educational institutions, banks and various types of business enterprises.

The United States before 1950: Marriage Bars Women were viewed as too delicate and small for many jobs Many employers actually implemented written rules that prohibited married women from being hired as teachers and clerical occupations. In 1942, 87% of American school districts forbade hiring married women, and 70% fired single women who married.

Source: Claudia Goldin (1990). Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women. New York: Oxford University Press.

Social mobility for women is further enhanced by employers who provide paid maternity leave and childcare facilities in the workplace. Also, as more women became consumers, jobs that serviced other women, especially in the service industry became more available. However, it should be noted that working class women or from low income backgrounds suffered from a lack of mobility compared to middle-

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class or professional occupations. Typically, working-class women work in jobs considered unskilled, usually with little job security, with low pay and few or no benefits (health and retirement insurance or paid vacation). The work is often repetitive, tedious, physically demanding and most of all, boring (Katz, Mark, S., & Fader, J. 2005).

a) Are women in your society better educated? b) Are women in your society enjoying greater social social mobility by joining the work-force? c) List other factors that have contributed towards women being more socially mobile? SOCIAL MOBILITY AND EARNINGS Besides examining the role of education in facilitating social mobility, individuals working in an organisation whether it be a factory, hotel, hospital, educational institution, government department or military, cannot avoid being involved in one of the following types of mobility in their workplace. 1. inter-firm mobility, 2. intra-firm mobility, and 3. within-job mobility. Inter-Firm Mobility Most job changes are inter-firm mobility. Inter-firm mobility can be classified as voluntary or involuntary mobility. Voluntary job mobility could be due to: pressure from employers, poor quality performance, immediate salary increase, longterm prospects in a new firm or sheer frustration. On the other hand, involuntary job mobility could be because of redundancy, dismissal or closure of the organisation. It is also least likely to allow an individual to gain an increase in responsibility on the job. In terms of income, voluntary job mobility on average has the largest increase in earnings compared to involuntary job mobility. This is because an individual who opted for voluntary job change is motivated by the desire to gain an immediate increase in salary. Intra-Firm Mobility There are also those who change jobs because of transfer or promotion within the organization which is referred to as intra-firm mobility. This is a change in occupation status but does not involve a change of firm. Intra-firm can be a major contributor to upward job mobility. Within-Job Mobility

10 Chapter 3: Education and Social Mobility Within-job mobility on the other hand, is only evident after some time. This is because you can only gauge the within-job mobility by comparing the level of responsibility held and the type of task undertaken at the beginning and end of each job held by the individual. In terms of earnings, most inter-firm mobility generates significant increase in earning compared to intra-mobility. Similarly, voluntary mobility is likely to generate higher income compared to involuntary inter-firm mobility.

a) What is the difference between inter-firm, intra-firm and job mobility? b) Give specific examples of these three types of mobility in organisations.


Australian has always prided itself with being a society in which individuals can move from one social class to another with great ease. It began as a penal colony and today has achieved the status of a developed nation. Samuel Terry, a thief from England was sent to Australia in 1801 as a convict. At the time of his death in 1838, he had amassed wealth equal to AUD 24 billion in todays dollars (measured relative to GDP) Source: Rubinstein, W.D. 2004. The All-Time Australian 200 Rich List. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. .

Do you think you are better of socio-economically compared to your parents? Intergenerational mobility is a measure of the changes in social status which occurs from the parents' to the children's generation. It can effect anyone in the population, as ones economic standing can increase or decrease from the position they were born into. Society is constantly changing and because of this, various opportunities can cause one to advance or digress in their economic standing. Ones talents can cause them to surpass the economic position into which they were born. As Blanden, Gregg & Machin (2005) put it:

11 Chapter 3: Education and Social Mobility The level of intergenerational mobility in society is seen by many as a measure of the extent of equality of economic opportunity or life chances. It captures the extent to which a persons circumstances during childhood are reflected in their success in later life, or, on the flip-side, the extent to which individuals can make it by virtue of their own talents, motivation and luck. (p.4). Many see intergenerational mobility as a way of measuring the equality present in the economic opportunities of a society. It looks at how much of a persons economic future is determined by ones childhood experiences and how much is determined by an individuals talents and capabilities. How is intergenerational determined? Inter-generational mobility is determined by analysing where children from the least or most affluent families end up in terms of incomes and earnings as adults. Their income as adults is then compared to what their parents earned. Inter-generational mobility is generally measured in terms of intergenerational elasticity. Intergenerational elasticity denoted by coefficient which measures the strength of the statistical correlation or association between parent and child economic standing.

If = 1.0

If = 0.0

HIGH intergenerational elasticity LOW social mobility in that society. o In other words, the greater is the impact of parents and upbringing in determining a persons socioeconomic standing compared to the persons talents and capabilities. LOW intergenerational elasticity HIGH social mobility in that society. o In other words, the greater is the impact of a persons talents and capabilities in determining his or her socioeconomic standing compared to the role of parents and upbringing.

In reality, there is no society with an intergenerational elasticity coefficient of 1.0 or 0.0. Usually it is between 0 and 1. For example, in studies conducted, the elasticity indicator for Britain is 0.271 compare to 0.162 for Australia (Leigh, 2007). What does it mean? It means that individuals in Australia have greater social mobility than individuals in Britain. In other words, a person has a greater chance of moving up the socioeconomic ladder based on his or her talents and capabilities in Australia compared to Britain.

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The level of intergenerational mobility in society is seen by many as a measure of the extent of equality of economic and social opportunity. It captures the degree of equality in life chances, i.e. the extent to which a persons family socioeconomic status determines his or her later success or on the flip-side, the extent to which individuals can make it by virtue of their own capabilities and motivation. It is an indication whether mobility is merit- or non-merit-based, i.e. whether ability and hard work determine social mobility, or does parents wealth, race, gender, and even luck!

Norway Sweden Denmark Canada Finland

Elasticity Indicator
0.139 0.143 0.143 0.143 0.147

Social Mobility

Germany Britain United States

0.171 0.271 0.289


Table 3.2 Indicators of Intergenerational Elasticity [source: a) Blanden, J.; Gregg, P. & Machin, S, (2005). Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and
North America. A Report Supported by the Sutton Trust. Center for Economic Performance. b) Andrew Leigh (2007) Intergenerational Mobility in Australia, The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy: Vol. 7: 2..]

Table 5.1 compares intergenerational mobility across the nine countries. Note that the United States (0.271) and Britain (0.289) have the highest intergenerational persistence (lowest mobility). Germany is around the middle of the estimates, while the Nordic countries and Canada all appear to be rather more mobile. Among the Nordic countries the levels of mobility are very similar with Norway having the greatest. Thus the picture that emerges is that Northern Europe and Canada are particularly mobile and that Britain and the US have the lowest intergenerational mobility across the European and North American countries. The United States which is seen by many as the land of opportunity where anyone can succeed despite their background clearly seems misplaced. Low mobility in Britain is partly explained by the strong relationship between parental income and educational attainment. For the United States, the low mobility is related to race, with Hertz (2004) showing that mobility is substantially more restricted for Afro-American families than white families. Why do Nordic countries have high social mobility? Over the years, mobility in the Nordic countries has increased. One possible reason for this equality in opportunity is the implementation of policies of school reform which lessen the financial strain of schooling on families, therefore making ones economic background play less of a role in determining their educational attainments. This in turn makes ones economic background play less of a role in their future economic earnings.

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a) What is intergenerational mobility? b) With reference to your country or society, do you think social mobility is high or low? Explain. c) What efforts has your government taken to increase Social mobility?

HEAD-START ASSETS AND INTERGENERATIONL MOBILITY Head-start assets refers to the assets that children can inherit from their parents that give them a head-start in life when compared to individuals who do not have these head-start assets (Shapiro, 2006). Previously parents provided their children with basic necessities such as food and clothing but today, parents are proving additional resources (also known as capital) such as financing their education, providing good health and nutrition, transferring their life style (tastes, values and beliefs) to their children. The following are examples of head-start assets that may significantly enhance social mobility of the next generation:

Financial assets

Cultural assets



Human assets

FINANCIAL ASSESTS OR CAPITAL Wealthy parents pass their wealth to their children in the form of property, cash, stocks & shares, land and so forth after death in the form of inheritances and bequests (Kohl, 2004). These intergenerational transfers may strengthen childrens social class. For example, between 12% and 26% of European individuals inherited their parents home (Di & Yang, 2002) which may have an effect on childrens later

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earnings directly or indirectly. Direct effects come when these gifts and bequests are worth a fortune if sold. Indirect effects come when children acquire earnings from the gifts and bequests and these in turn provides income for better food, health, education, housing and neighbourhood conditions and capital for investment activities. For example, in the United States children whose parents own homes are more likely to attain higher education and this in turn leads to a permanent income. This is particularly significant among low-income groups (Shlay, 2006).

Case Study: Inheritance and Social Mobility in the United States A good example of a head-start asset would be an inheritance that a child receives from his or her parents which gives them the amount of money required to put a down payment on a home. This is a quick way of identifying families that might potentially receive large enough financial assistance to transform biographies, improve their class standing, and attain advantages for at least one child (Shapiro, 2006. p.62). When examining head-start assets along racial lines in the United States, Shapiro (2006) found that whites are 2.4 times more likely than Afro-American to have parents with substantial wealth resources that can be used to give them an advantage in life. Data also reveal that among white families who received an inheritance the amount received averages at $76,000, while the average inheritance received by Afro-Americans was $31,000. Even when Afro-Americans are lucky enough to receive some sort of a head-start endowment they are receiving, on average, less than half of what the average white person gets. A lower-income individual fortunate enough to receive a substantial inheritance from their parents at some point in their life will also have the opportunity to escape the debt trap that many low-income families experience in the United States today. Because people who live on low yearly income must resort to credit to finance a great deal of their purchases they often fall short on payments and fall into a perpetual cycle of constant debt that may last their entire lives. A substantial inheritance would enable such an individual to clear their debt and allow them a chance to possibly focus the investment of their earnings on cultivating the growth of human capital in their children. [source: Shapiro, Thomas M. The Hidden Cost of Being African American. New York: Oxford University Press, 60-71. 2006]

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SOCIAL ASSETS OR CAPITAL While there are many definitions of social capital or assets; generally it refers to anything that facilitates individual or group action through a network of relationships, exchange and trust (Coleman, 1988). For example, an individual is helpless socially, if he or she chooses to be alone. If he or she comes into contact with a neighbour and continues to interact with other neighbours, he or she is accumulating social capital which may immediately satisfy his or her social needs and potentially improve the living conditions of the community. Whether society is better of depends on how the individual or the group uses available social capital. In short, social capital or asset refers to the interactions that involved shared norms, values and understandings that enhance cooperation within or among groups of people (Cote & Healy, 2001). Social capital can take place within the family, the neighbourhood, and the school (Coleman & Hoffer, 1987) where peers and society can influence children and adolescents. It includes values, visions, ideas, friendship, kinship, likes & dislikes, conflict and so forth that affect the productivity of individuals and groups. There are two kinds of social capital: Family social capital: this involves the interactions between parents and their children (time efforts, resources and energy that parents invest in their children (Coleman, 1988). Community social capital: refers to the social support networks, civic engagement in local institutions, trust and safety, and degree of religiosity. Community social capital will benefit children of those communities where the adult members feel responsible for all children. They display high level of expectations and values about education. Children living in this type of community benefits as interactions occur inside and outside of school; a childs friends and associates in school are sons and daughters of friends and associates of the childs parents (Coleman, 1990). Within the social capital, there is bonding which connects people together such as among family members or among members of the same ethnic group. Therefore, the quantity and quality of the social capital transmitted to children is vital to their development. Social Capital and Educational Attainment Parents social capital in a community plays a powerful role in child development and it has been linked to various positive outcomes in education. Communities with high social capital also enjoyed high education performance. For example, in these communities, parents were more involved in their children' education. When there is more parents' participation in their children' education and school, teachers reported lower levels of students misbehaviour, such as bringing weapons to school, engaging in physical violence, playing hooky, and being generally apathetic about education. [source: Putnam, Robert. (2000), Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. Boston: Simon and Schuster.

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CULTURAL ASSETS One such advantage that an individual who receives these head-start assets can enjoy is in the form of enhanced cultural capital. Cultural capital refers to an understanding of what gives a person advantages or disadvantages in school, business, and social situations (Shapiro, 2006. p: 66). Those individuals fortunate enough to inherit a substantial amount of money and propel themselves into a class above the one in which they are currently a member gain the associated higher levels of cultural capital that go along with belonging to a higher social class. For instance, an inheritance that allows a family to move from a neighbourhood with a poorer public school to one with a more well-endowed school and reap the benefits in cultural capital from the greater range of extracurricular activities that are offered. The structured extracurricular activities that are absent in schools with low funding and present in schools with high funding provide students with structure in their lives and also the opportunity to interact with other adults and learn important social skills that may benefit them later in life. Those children without access to such programs lack the opportunity to develop certain forms of social and cultural capital that would have otherwise helped them to advance their status in their future. Lowincome families who do not receive these head-start assets do not have the opportunity to develop the cultural capital that is necessary to advance oneself to a higher status later in life. HUMAN CAPITAL As mentioned earlier, one of the resources parents tend to transmit to their children will be human capital. This comprises the parents knowledge, experience, and talents (i.e. education and learning process, healthy life style) that will contribute to the childs productivity, enabling the child to perform specific tasks (Becker, 1991). Parents acquire their human capital through schooling which is maintained through training and further education. Parents who undergo these kinds of training are then rewarded in the form of income and higher physical well-being. Thus, human capital will include not only the formal but also informal collection of parental skills that will have an effect of childrens outcome. ETHNIC CAPITAL In addition to parental inputs, the characteristics of the ethnic environment where the children are raised is important. The ethnic environment acts as an external factor that may enhance the human capital process. When the environment in which the child is raised is strong, ethnic differences can persist across generations. For example, friends and relatives from the same ethnic background who do not live in the same neighbourhood may serve as a role model and leave an impact on the child, thus contributing to the enhancement of ethnic capital. Similarly, children are more likely to interact with peers from the same ethnic group, the impact of peers from the same ethnic group will be more compared to that of other ethnic groups.

17 Chapter 3: Education and Social Mobility GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION AND INTERGENERATIONAL MOBILITY The standard model for examining intergenerational mobility says that if you were to hold a child's genetic endowments at a constant level, investments in his or her development of human capital increases his or her future income. This is an easy concept to understand if you imagine two children of equal ability, one of whom is given a high quality education from a young age and the other who does not receive that same educational opportunity. Since genetic predisposition to succeed is held constant there is evidence to suggest that child who receive a higher quality education will have a greater chance to succeed as they mature. Since many low-income parents lack the wealth to give their children these opportunities, government spending has shown to make a difference. A study by Mayer and Lopoo (2008) who used U.S. Census Data to compare the relationship between government spending from state to state within the United States and intergenerational mobility for the residents in those states. Their results show that in states that have the highest government spending for programmes which have an obvious uplifting effect on low-income families and their children, such as welfare programmes or increased spending on education, the highest levels of intergenerational mobility are found. As one would expect, the effects of increased levels of government spending and assistance on the future income of children is far greater in those children who come from low-income families as opposed to the children who are raised in a high-income family. This study on the relationship between government spending and intergenerational mobility is not meant to suggest that blind increases in government spending is the solution to increasing intergenerational mobility in the United States and narrowing the economic inequality gap that exists. This study does reveal that raising some forms of government spending that is especially beneficial to lowincome families can substitute for the absence of income that those families have. Income that they might elect to invest in the future of their child and the development of their human capital.


a) What are head-start assets? b) How do head-start assets impact intergenerational mobility? c) To what extent do you agree that head-start assets impact intergenerational mobility? Use yourself as an example to illustrate.

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Ascribed status Achieved status Social mobility Upward mobility Downward mobility Inter-form mobility Intra-firm mobility Within-job mobility Intergenerational mobility

Intergenerational elasticity Head-start assets Ethnic capital Human capital Social assets Cultural assets Government intervention

SUMMARY All societies have some form of social stratification where people are grouped based on kinship ties, family prestige, ethnicity, gender, age, religious groups, caste and so forth. Society based on ascription assigns its people into groups or categories from birth. In a society based on achievement, individuals can strive through entrepreneurial activities, industry and acquisition of knowledge, move upwards to a high place in society or to another profession or vocation. Formal education is closely linked to upward social mobility and has both a functional value as well as a symbolic value. Education was the key factor for women to be employed, especially when higher education is being made more accessible to women. Intergenerational mobility is a measure of the changes in social status which occurs from the parents' to the children's generation. Intergenerational elasticity denoted by coefficient which measures the strength of the statistical correlation or association between parent and child economic standing. Head-start assets refers to the assets that children can inherit from their parents that give them a head-start in life when compared to individuals who do not have these head-start assets.

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Higher government spending on programmes which have an obvious uplifting effect on low-income families and their children, has a greater effect on intergenerational mobility.


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