General Article How fair is the route to the top?

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By Anthony Heath, Nan Dirk de Graaf and Yaojun Li

More people think they have been upwardly mobile (that they have a job that is ‘higher’ up the occupational scale than their father’s) than think they have moved downwards.

  • 39% think that they are in a higher or much higher job than their father’s, while only 23% think they are in a lower or much lower job.
  • Long-range mobility is quite rare; people tend to say their jobs are ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ than their father’s (rather than ‘much higher’ or ‘much lower’).
  • There has recently been a slight fall in perceived long-range upward mobility. 12% say their job is much higher than their father’s, compared with 18% in 1992, and 16% in 1987.

Meritocratic factors are seen as being the most important when it comes to a person ‘getting ahead’ in modern Britain.

  • 84% say hard work is important; 74% a good education; 71% ambition.
  • A third (33%) think knowing the right people is important.
  • The importance of ‘ascriptive factors’ (which ...

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