Globalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have generated great benefits to society, raising the living standards of billions and lifting millions out of poverty. But they have also exacerbated inequalities in our societies. Inequality is rising even in those countries that have experienced rapid growth. The social and economic consequences of inequality are profound and far-reaching: a growing sense of unfairness, precarity, perceived loss of identity and dignity, weakening social fabric, eroding trust in institutions, disenchantment with political processes, and an erosion of the social contract. The response must include a concerted effort to create new pathways to socioeconomic mobility, ensuring everyone has fair opportunities for success.
In this context, the World Economic Forum launches The Global Social Mobility Report 2020 to provide a much-needed assessment of the current state of the paths to social mobility around the world. Traditionally, social mobility is measured across generations, thus only capturing the effect of measures taken decades ago. The Global Social Mobility Index focuses on those policies, practices and institutions that collectively determine the extent to which everyone in society has a fair chance to fulfil their potential, regardless of their socio-economic background, the origin of their parents, or the place where they were born.
The launch of the report coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Forum’s Annual Meeting taking place this year under the theme “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” and the start of a decade of delivery towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 development agenda. The results of the inaugural edition reveal that, on average, most economies are far from providing fair conditions to thrive to all their citizens. An individual’s chances in life remain disproportionately influenced by their starting point—their socio-economic status at birth—resulting in economies and societies that too often reproduce rather than reduce historic inequalities.
It is the calling of this new decade—one in which there is more transparency than ever before on who has opportunity and who does not—to make progress on the pathways to social mobility. At the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society over 200 leaders from business, government and civil society work together to deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new standards, and drive collaborative action for systemic change on three deeply interconnected areas which all impact social mobility: growth and competitiveness; education, skills and work; and equality and inclusion. We invite more leaders to join us to co-shape new solutions to the challenges highlighted in this report, working together with the urgency and ambition that the current context demands of us.
On behalf of the Forum, I want to express my gratitude to the core project team involved in the production of this report: Thierry Geiger, Guillaume Hingel, Vesselina Ratcheva, Saadia Zahidi, as well as other colleagues from the Platform for Shaping the Future of the New Economy and Society. My gratitude also goes to the experts consulted in the course of this project, as well as LinkedIn, Burning Glass Technologies and ADP LLC for providing unique data sets and expertise to create this report.
The Global Social Mobility Report 2020 is designed to help policy-makers, business leaders and other stakeholders shape their socio-economic strategies in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We hope it will also serve as a call to action to engage in the visionary and bold leadership required to build a new social mobility agenda for growing, sustainable and inclusive economies that provide opportunity for all.
Founder and Executive Chairman,
World Economic Forum