India ranks 76th on Global Social Mobility Index

India ranks 76th on Global Social Mobility Index - India has been ranked at 76th position out of 82 countries on a Global Social Mobility Index 2020, compiled by World Economic Forum (WEF) for the first time, ahead of its 50th annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

About Global Social Mobility Index

  • The Global Social Mobility Index is designed to provide policymakers with a means to identify areas for improving social mobility and promoting equally shared opportunities in their economies, regardless of their development.
  • Social Mobility means the movement in personal circumstances of an individual in relation to those of their parents. In other words, it is the ability of a child to experience a better life than their parents.
  • Relative social mobility is an assessment of the impact of socio-economic background on an individual’s outcomes (such as health, education etc.) in life.
  • The index ranks economies on 10 pillars spread across 5 key dimensions of social mobility i.e. health, education (access, quality and equity, lifelong learning), technology, work (opportunities wages, conditions), protection and institutions (social protection and inclusive institutions).

Major Findings

  • According to the inaugural social mobility report, only a handful of nations, among 82 countries, have put in place the right conditions to foster social mobility.
  • Denmark has topped the charts, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
  • Five economies that will gain the most from boosting social mobility are China, United States, India, Japan and Germany. China’s economy could grow by an extra USD 103 billion a year, or USD 1 trillion dollars over the decade.
  • The most socially mobile societies in the world are all European countries.
  • Among the G7 countries, Germany (11th) is the most socially mobile, followed by France, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, US and Italy.
  • Among the BRICS countries, the Russian Federation is the most socially mobile, followed by China, Brazil, India and South Africa.
  • The report also makes a strong case for ‘stakeholder capitalism’ rather than ‘state capitalism’. All of the most socially mobile economies put emphasis on effective social policies that benefit communities as well as provide a platform for healthy and competitive economies.
  • The report calls for a new financial model for social mobility that focuses on improving tax progressivity on personal income, policies that address wealth concentration and rebalancing the sources of taxation.
  • The areas of improvement for India include social protection and fair wage distribution.
  • Fair wages, social protection and lifelong learning are the biggest drags on social mobility

Need of the Index

  • Despite fast global growth, inequalities have been growing across the world.
  • The rise of inequality has not only created massive social unrest but also adversely affected the global consensus on the kind of economic policies (such as Globalization).
  • Globalization is considered as fundamental pillar of mobility – a world where ideas, people, goods and services can cross borders with ease and efficiency.
  • However, recently trade protectionist policies has been adopted by the countries, which earlier used to advocate trade openness, to help allay the fears of domestic workers.
  • Irrespective of size and maturity of the economy, most countries have poor record of social mobility.
  • Social mobility Index helps us to understand both speed and the intensity of social mobility. For example it would take 7 generations for a person born in a low-income family in India to approach mean income level while in Denmark, it would only take 2 generations.
  • Increasing social mobility, which is a key driver of income inequality, by 10% would benefit social cohesion and boost the world’s economies by nearly 5% by 2030.
  • Research indicates that countries with high levels of relative social mobility—such as Finland, Norway or Denmark— exhibit lower levels of income inequality. Conversely, countries with low relative social mobility—such as India, South Africa or Brazil—also exhibit high levels of economic inequality.
  • This index will help the policymakers to assess whether their citizens have equal economic opportunities and to identify and improve the grey areas.
  • According to a recent Oxfam report, the world’s richest 1% have more than twice the wealth of 6.9 billion people. Women’s unpaid care work has a monetary value of $10.8 trillion per year.

What India needs to do?

  • Government should provide vocational education, reskilling and upskilling as well as paying fair wages and reducing gender pay gap.
  • Industry and sector-specific action plans are needed to address the historic inequalities within and between the sectors.
  • There is a need to promote a culture of meritocracy in hiring.
  • The mix of public spending and policy incentives must change to put greater emphasis on factors of social spending.
  • There is a need to improve availability, quality and distribution of education programmes and to promote skills development throughout an individual’s working life. A new approach is needed to jointly finance such efforts between the public and private sector.
  • There is a need to develop a new social protection contract, which would offer holistic protection to all workers irrespective of their employment status and particularly technological change, industry transitions, requiring greater support for job transitions in the coming decade.

Conclusion

Creating societies where every person has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential in life irrespective of socio-economic background would not only bring huge societal benefits in the form of reduced inequalities and healthier, more fulfilled lives but it would also boost economic growth by hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Therefore, India needs a strong policy interventions to improve its social mobility ranking, which would further help India to achieve its target of becoming a $5trillion economy.

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