According to the [World Bank] 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.
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.
...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.
“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.
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.This seems to dovetail with a passage I quoted on Monday from James Galbraith's 2008 book, "The Predator State," in which Galbraith discusses America's "Freedom to Shop."
The concept of a freedom to shop has been extended, insidiously, from its origins in the realm of goods. It has reached, for instance, the realm of careers, where it plays even greater havoc with the normal use of words. In a "free" capitalist society, with private schools and universities able to admit whom they please and charge what the market will bear, the freedom to choose one's profession becomes in part the freedom to become what one can afford to become. It is not the calling that does the choosing, in other words, but the person who chooses the calling he or she can pay for. The choice is "free" - because it's mainly a matter of money. It depends only partly on talent, training, discipline or accomplishment of any kind...
Where is Charles Dickens now that we need him again? Someone has to breathe some life into our social conscience.