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The success paradoxWhy we need a holistic theory of social mobility$
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Graeme Atherton

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781447316336

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447316336.001.0001

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The need for a holistic theory of social mobility

The need for a holistic theory of social mobility

(p.11) One The need for a holistic theory of social mobility
The success paradox

Graeme Atherton

Policy Press

This chapter outlines the three reasons why the present approach to social mobility is unsustainable. Firstly, It is contributing to dramatic rises in inequality. By focusing so much on economic measures of success this make it harder to construct cross­society coalitions in favour of redistribution policy. Secondly, it depends on jobs that are not there. The drive to raise educational attainment is necessary but not sufficient to lead to significant upward economic social mobility. The chapter argues that evidence suggests that there will not be an expansion of higher income jobs required to facilitate such mobility in the near future. Thirdly, the chapter argues that upward economic mobility doesn’t lead to a better life anyway drawing on the work into the Easterlin paradox to argue that happiness does not increase commensurate to income beyond a certain point. The chapter concludes by describing a holistic approach to social mobility that give greater weight to non-economic factors in understanding success and progress in life.

Keywords:   inequality, easterlin paradox, holistic

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