Observatory on Social Mobility and Equal Opportunity

Social mobility and equal opportunity are key to thriving societies and economies. Yet they remain key challenges in the current context. To help countries address these challenges, and by building on the OECD's longstanding experience on the topic, the newly created OECD Observatory on Social Mobility and Equal Opportunity will:

  • advance data collection efforts to measure social mobility and equal opportunity, and understand the drivers of these issues;

  • discuss how policies can break down barriers to equal opportunity and promote social mobility; and

  • analyse the role of civil society and the private sector in fostering equal opportunity.

The activities of the Observatory complement the OECD's broader work on inequality and poverty. When large differences in the distribution of economic resources, employment opportunities and social outcomes are large, they are likely to translate into low social mobility and enduring disadvantage. The right mix of policies, including for example educational interventions, strategic regional investments, and labour market and social and welfare policies, can help foster more equal opportunity.

Understanding social mobility

People from disadvantaged backgrounds have fewer opportunities to climb the socio-economic ladder. In European OECD countries, children growing up with the greatest socio-economic disadvantage grow up to earn as much as 20% less as adults than those with more favourable childhoods. Across OECD economies, it takes nearly 5 generations for children from low-income families to approach the average income in their country. Unequal opportunities are not only a moral concern, they also undermine economic and social prosperity.

Exploring perceptions of equal opportunities

Understanding people’s beliefs of what drives social mobility is key to designing policies that garner public support. Drawing on data collected with the support of Amundi, a new series of policy insights investigates people’s perceptions of equal opportunities and how that relates to expectations on public policy intervention.

Key reports on social mobility & equal opportunity

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Watch the launch of the Observatory

In case you missed it, you can watch the Observatory's launch event, which gathered stakeholders from across governments, the statistical community, media, international organisations, academia, civil society and the private sector. A high-level roundtable with policy makers and key representatives from civil society explored how to promote social mobility and equal opportunity on the ground, followed by an expert workshop that focused on sharing research experience and innovations from around the world. For further information, consult the event agenda.

Related OECD work


Equality of Opportunity for Sexual and Gender Minorities (report - World Bank)

Fairness (research project - European Union)