The Netherlands offers equal access to education

In a World Economic Forum study presented in The Global Social Mobility Report 2020 – Equality, Opportunity and a New Economic Imperative, the Netherlands ranks sixth in terms of social mobility with a score of 82.4 out of 100. In terms of access to education, it scores the highest of all included countries. Denmark tops the overall ranking with a score of 85.2, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. To put the rest of the ratings into perspective: Canada places 14th, the US is 27th, China 45th and Ivory Coast comes last at 82nd place, with a score of 34.5.

A new assessment of social mobility

A country has more social mobility if it provides more equally shared opportunities: citizens are given equal footing regardless of their socio-economic background, geographical location, gender or background. The report offers a new, holistic assessment of 82 global economies according to their performance over five key dimensions of social mobility: health, education, technology, work and protection and institutions.

Social inequality negates economic growth

The report shows a direct and linear relationship between a country’s income inequality and its social mobility score – meaning social inequality essentially negates any gains from high economic growth. For example, while India (#72) shows impressive economic growth, a significant section of the population remains poor. According to the report, it would take on average seven generations for a low-income family to approach the country’s mean income.

A textbook for change

The report stresses that by promoting social mobility, a country can positively influence its broader economic growth. Hence policymakers are encouraged to use The Global Social Mobility Index as a tool to identify specific areas for improvement. While the Netherlands, for example, scores well across the board (and ranks first for ‘education access’), it comes 16th for ‘fair wage distribution’.

Investing in social mobility: win-win

“If countries included in this report were to increase their social mobility index score by 10 points, this would result in an additional GDP growth of 4.41% by 2030 in addition to vast social cohesion benefits,” states the report. “Proactive efforts by government and business can enhance the ability of economies to foster social mobility and ensure that every child, young person and adult has a reason to believe in the prospect of a better future.”

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