The World Database on Equality of Opportunity and Social Mobility

The database contains:

    • measures of inequality of opportunity for 47 countries based on 124 surveys
    • measures of income mobility across generations for 26 countries based on 52 surveys
    • measures of the intergenerational transmission of status for 41 countries based on 288 surveys

    • measures of educational mobility across generations for 148 countries based on 152 surveys

The data show a positive correlation between income inequality and inequality of opportunities. Countries with a higher degree of income inequality are also characterized by greater inequality of opportunity.

In other words, the argument according to which inequality of results is the price to pay for a mobile society where the “social lift” works and where there is equality of starting points is not supported by the data.

On the contrary, the empirical evidence shows a negative correlation between income inequality and equality of opportunity: the greater the distance between individual outcomes and positions, the greater the difficulty in passing from one position to an other over the course of one generation.

For large parts of the world’s population born in the 1980s, an individual’s education is closely tied to the education of one’s parents.

For many countries the regression coefficient obtained from regressing respondents’ years of schooling on the highest years of schooling of their parents, ranges between 0.53 and 0.84. 

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia stand out as regions with some of the lowest levels of mobility.