All out inequality

Wow, this certainly provoked a response from all of you. Thank you for all of the comments on this subject – I was really surprised you all felt as passionately about the subject as I do! I got a bit carried away with all of my posting over half term, so there have been two posts since then, but I just wanted to say thank you for contributing to the discussion!

The next few posts are going to be random musings I created over half term. So all time references are back in half term – week commencing 15 February. I’ve been too caught up in other things to post them! So – here we go….

Whilst browsing through one of my top blogs – Sociological Images I came across this graph comparing socioeconmic mobility across OECD countries.

Graph showing social mobility

Taken from Sociological Images (in itself taken from the New York Times).

Using educational attainment and income as measures, the value (between zero and one) indicates how strongly parental socioeconomic status predicts a child’s socioeconomic status (a 1 is a perfect correlation and a zero would be no correlation).

Great Britain (GBR) is top – woo hoo! Er, no. This is bad thing – it means we are top in developed countries to least likely change our status from our parents. In other words there is little to no social mobility within this country. There is a low chance of improving your lot in life.

Not what the government would have you believe. And it looks very much like we are going to have an Old Etonian as our next Prime Minister. I am sure he will have a complete understanding of these issues. Oh, sorry, is my sarcasm showing?

Just as a little exercise let’s look at the figures on UK  prison inmates:

  • Over 95 per cent of all employment in the UK requires employees to be able to read.
  • Half of all offenders leaving prison are unable to read
  • Ex-offenders are three times more likely to re-offend when unemployed
  • 64 per cent of prisoners will re-offend within two years following release
  • 37 per cent of prisoners are below Level 1 (expected of a seven-year-old or National Curriculum Level 2), against 16 per cent in the general population between 16-65 years.

(Taken from the UK Improvement and Development Agency)

Oh right, that’s all good then.

So, lets put them all together (and yes, I realise that correlation is not collaboration, however I am hypothesising here, so bear with me).

If you are born to poor, low educated parents you are likely to become the same yourself, there is little chance you will be able to improve your lot in life. You may struggle with literacy , especially if you come from a poor area, which may have low achieving schools.

If you  have a low level of literacy there you will have a hard time finding work – over 95% of employment in the UK requires you to be able to read. You may end up in prison, which of course decreases your chance of employment.

There is a contract across Prisons in the UK to educate prisoners, but there has just been 300 job cuts, reducing the amount of education in Prisons.

If we don’t address social mobility within the UK, then we will continue to have high levels of offending and  even there where you come from has an impact on your sentencing.

Get this from the UK Literacy Trust:

Over half of young people on a Detention and Training Order (DTO) have literacy and numeracy levels below that expected of an 11-year-old, although their average age is 17. There is also evidence from the adult prison population to suggest that the underlying factor is poverty, with prisoners’ literacy levels corresponding to their social class

What do we do about that? I don’t know, I’m not an expert, but surely good education has got to count for something.

I’m going to stop this post here, I am not sure how this post came about – it was triggered by the blog I read and it all spiralled out there – I didn’t know where this post was going when I started it!


One thought on “All out inequality

  1. EcoYogini says:

    hmmm. very interesting. Canada is not too bad which is great- but I wonder about this. It’s REALLY tough to get ‘out’ of the SES status here as well, who can afford to attend University now days? And truly an undergraduate degree will get you nothing in Canada…. sigh.

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