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The Elevator broke: why the poor become easier themes of the day 15.08.2018 at 21:00

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Social mobility is stuck. Today to break out of his social stratum and find a decent job is harder than 20 years ago. Including in Russia. Why?

Your future: you will go the way of the parents. You still have a chance to get ahead, to climb the social and wealth ladder. But every year it gets tougher. The social Elevator worked well for those born between 1955 and 1975, and for younger it works far worse. These are the results of the study "the social Elevator is Broken? How to stimulate social mobility" prepared by experts of the Organization for economic cooperation and development (OECD). Today, people are much easier to fall into poverty than to improve his position. Is there a way out?

"Sticky floor"

We are the children of their parents, and forget about a society of equal opportunities — that is the message of the OECD study. Inequality accompanies us all life. First — level education. Only every fourth child from a working class family over time, occupies a managerial position. If one of the parents was a Manager, the probability to occupy the same position in the child rises to 50%. In turn, only 10% of children whose parents have higher education, are limited to average. The others also get higher. If parents have not received even a complete secondary education, the chance that their child will go to University, not to exceed 15%.

lower education levels usually mean lower wages. And for the rest of my life. Importantly, unequal access to education means not only income inequalities, but also inequalities in health and in life expectancy. Today in the OECD countries, 25-year-old man who graduated from the University, will live on average eight years longer than their poorly educated peers. Among women this difference is 4.6 years.

the Authors introduce the term "sticky floor": if you were born in a poor family, and his life will spend in poverty. These data refer to OECD countries — economic organization 36 developed countries in the world. But the same situation in Russia. Leading expert of the Institute of education HSE Valery Malik and lecturer at Exeter University (UK) Alexey Bessudnov examined how educational are graduates of the ninth classes of the Russian schools and how their choice depends on the families in which they grow.


the Choice before the graduate of the ninth grade, is the first important fork in the road, the first choice that determines the future. Stay in school, and then to go to College? Or limit it to a working specialty? In fact, the social Elevator just starts from the tenth grade. But this lift still have to try to jump, the authors of the study. The chances are not equal.

In families where both parents have higher education, 87% of children continued studying in high school. Where the University has graduated only one of the parents, the figure is below 70%. If the Institute did not study neither the mother nor the father, the chances of transition into the tenth grade for a child to be 47%.

can be Traced dependence on the family's income: the lowest chance to go to tenth grade in children from families with an income of 20 thousand rubles per month and below. With the growth of income is growing and likely to continue in school. Be highest in children from families with incomes of more than 80 thousand rubles per month, 16 percentage points higher than children from the poorest families.

However, the problem is not only that between social classes, there are glass walls. The problem is that these walls are getting higher and stronger: the stratification increases.

Inequality: the gap is growing,

10% richest of the population of OECD countries now have income, which is 9.5 times the income of 10% of the poorest. For comparison, 25 years ago this difference was 7 times, provide data to the OECD. Today the richest 10% have half the total wealth in the world, while 40% of the poorest only 3 per cent.

the company is growing pessimism. While in 1992 27% of people believed that their financial situation will improve with time, in 2015 — only 22%. More and more people think that the secret of moving forward is "proper" (educated and wealthy) parents. This was the opinion of 31% of the population of OECD countries in 1987 and 36% in 2009. Reality confirms these thoughts: on average, 38% of children (in some OECD countries up to 70%) have the same income level as their parents.

On the days of the American CBS conducted a survey on the topic, how has the tension between African American and white population of the United States. 61% of respondents think that over the past year, tensions have increased.

55 years ago on August 28 1963 in Washington was a March for Martin Luther king against discrimination of people on racial grounds. In 1965 the U.S. passed the law "On civil rights" and the law "On electoral rights", making white and black population were de jure equal. De facto, the gap is not decreasing but even increasing. According to The Economist magazine, the median income for African American households was in the year 2000, 64% of the median income of white households. In 2011 this ratio amounted to 58%. In 2008, when the U.S. market burst housing bubble, blacks were the most numerous group of victims.

the Problem, again, comes from my childhood: a 17-year-old black teen shows the same reading technique and the same level of proficiency in mathematics, as well as 13-year-old white student. Consequently, the chances to go to College and white students is much greater. Consequently, they are more likely to receive a quality education, a better job and ultimately a higher social status and higher income.

the Russian statistics also testifies to the growth of poverty. "According to Rosstat, in 2016 the income of 19.5 million (13.3 percent) of Russians do not exceed the minimum subsistence level, — says head of Department on work with staff QBF Svetlana Beloded. At that time in our country registered the maximum number of poor since 2006. In 2017, the rate declined slightly — income below the subsistence minimum was recorded in 19.3 million people (13.2% of the population)." Says this change is about reducing poverty or just about errors of calculation, shows data for 2018.

the Happiness to be born rich

Growing economy worldwide it becomes a prerogative of the rich. It is in their pockets and settles on their accounts that the "growing prosperity", which is written by analysts each year. Especially clearly the breakdown of the social Elevator with the simultaneous increase in inequality has begun to emerge with the 1990-ies.

Experts of the OECD, in addition to the term "sticky floor" also introduced the term "sticky ceiling" to mention the fact that 40% of children from the richest 20% of the population of OECD countries retain the income level of the parents. "Sticky floor" and "sticky ceiling" is equally firmly held by the younger generation. Experts of the OECD for four years watched the changes in the level of income in representatives of five property groups. It was found that 60% of the poorest (bottom 20% by income) and 70% of the richest (top 20% by income) remained with the same level of income. Moreover, those low-income, which could increase your income, did it not due to social mobility: in most cases played a role of some unexpected external circumstances, and not a career.


most firmly in the "sticky floors" and "sticky ceiling" held in the United States and Germany. The report's authors made some imputation: how many generations will it take a child from a poor family to reach the average income for the country. In the United States and Germany, the figure was six generations. The average figure in the OECD and 4.5. Of course, there are countries where the social Elevator works even worse than in the US and Germany, but this is the economy of another type. For example, in China and India the process will take seven generations, and in Brazil and South Africa — nine. The lowest rates are typical of countries in Northern Europe. In Denmark it's two generations in Finland, Norway and Sweden — three.

In fact, some social mobility is preserved today in the middle class. And then, we are talking more about moving down rather than up. Throughout the four years of observation a family of seven belonging to the middle class, fell into the group of the poorest (bottom 20% by income). Among the families belonging to the category "lower layer of the middle class", the probability has reached one in five.

Social mobility in Russia: stuck up?

the Breakdown of the social Elevator visible in Russia.

The USSR, like other countries, dominated by the socialist system, despite all the shortcomings of the system were given more chances to get through the frame bars, said co-owner and development Director of the company "Ekookna" Nina Filonenko. "For the individual regions and groups of citizens there were benefits to enroll in the most prestigious universities in the country such as Moscow state University, MGIMO", — she leads by example.

the Fact that now social mobility has virtually stopped working, Svetlana Beloded connects with natural processes in the economy in the 1990-ies. "In our country very quickly there was stratification of society into rich and poor, whereas in the West the elite was formed gradually, says eng. — In addition, it is important to note that the bulk of the Russian population psychologically accustomed to stay in one place, to live the kind of life that was characteristic of their parents."

social lift is still working well, says managing partner Swiss Consulting Partners Julius Somsikov. "Especially in big cities, where young people from any social environment can get a good education and successfully move up the career ladder, the expert argues. — The demand for intelligent professionals still great."

anyway, the absence or decline of social mobility threatens social stability and economic development of the country. "First of all, with a large number of the poor increases the level of social tension. In particular, developing crime — said eng. — The lack of social mobility hampers the development of the labour market".

When the inequalities are not afraid

In fact, the tension in the society creates inequality as such, but the lack of social mobility, it is possible to change its position. To such conclusion came the Director of the Centre for labour market studies, HSE Vladimir Gimpelson and senior research fellow, Laboratory for comparative researches of mass consciousness, HSE Galina Monusova in the study "attitudes towards inequality and social mobility".

And it is important not mobility in itself, but the way in providing it. The widespread use of nemelcockletocny methods of enrichment (bribes, corruption, the "right" family status) of any country significantly reduces tolerance for inequality. If the tools of success as legitimate and fair, such as hard work, the population is much less believes inequality is a serious problem.


so How to provide that mobility? OECD experts give policymakers the following recommendations:

1. High standards of secondary education which gives the opportunity to go to University to all segments of the population.

2. Social support for parents needs to be adjusted to take into account the educational abilities of children. Support in unforeseen temporary shocks, such as job loss or birth of a child. Moreover, such support should also be available to middle-class families who are at risk to sink to the lower stratum.

3. Tax scale should be progressive and not have exceptions.

4. Urban policy and planning transport infrastructure needs to prevent the emergence of ghettos.

5. Market policy labour must protect workers from the lower social strata and to make the recruitment process fair and transparent.

Nina Filonenko adds to this list the point about the Russian specificity: it is important that the state be opened up including change of positions in the public sector. In this country is the problem.

However, the social Elevator can be run without the participation of politicians, just by the development of technology, believe some experts. The spread of the Internet and online education can give the same equal opportunities. "You can obtain knowledge of any order, which previously was worth some mad money and sold only to the elite, — said the founder of professional social network on the Blockchain technology, V. Zolotukhin. — Yes, there are people who have difficulty to access Internet, for example North Koreans, or very poor. But Google is working on this problem, too, to provide free Internet to everyone on Earth. Now, with due diligence, if not lazy, you can learn on the level of Harvard, being at home, studying their lectures, courses, tests."

the"Digital copy" instead of Harvard,

Yes, and Harvard is not required. "The universal digitalization opens up entirely new horizons, allowing you to capitalize on the explosive growth of interest in the content to blogs and social networks, — says Julius Somsikov. — The possibilities of social mobility in this area is now so great that some young people consciously reject classical University education and is focused on the "promotion" of their digital copies."

"of Course, the development of individual professions remains the prerogative of the rich (for example, doctors and lawyers in the United States: education in these areas has traditionally been very expensive) — the member of the Council for cooperation with civil society institutions under the Chairman of the Federation Council Yevgeny, Cartago. — But in General no such problems, so talking about the failure of social mobility in the age of mobility and Internet is quite strange."

of Course, the Internet provides the opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge, especially in the framework of General secondary education, and there are numerous platforms for online education and allow you to listen to courses from the best universities in the world. But, enjoying the accessibility that the Internet, we should not ignore the fact that it is only on a limited number of humanitarian, social and some Sciences. The profession of doctor, engineer and many others are still passed down "from person to person" and involve a lot of practice. So, stay inside the University walls. Where to get children from poor families is becoming increasingly difficult.