A renaissance for social mobility and its significance for the bridge towards postsecondary education

Jo Ritzen


Inequality in earned wages is in our western society on the increase. Social mobility is on the decrease. The contribution of education to equality of opportunity is decreasing, because education adapts more slowly to the increasing complexities of our societies than the home and social environment of the upper class and the upper part of the middle class. These are the forewarnings of a meltdown of the nuclear fusion reactor providing the energy of our societies: trust between social groups and hope of social betterment now and in the future for the next generation.

Can meltdown be prevented by education, by a renaissance of social mobility and what social engineering would be needed to bring this about? This is the main question we address here, focused on K-12 (as well as Early Childhood Development), against a substantiation of the above background. We address this question in the context of the transition from high school to postsecondary education.

This paper is written for a seminar-session on the transition of youngsters through the education system, from ECD through K-12 from the perspective of the potential future participation in higher education and from the prospects of children for a future, solid position in society, which always starts with the position on the labour market.

JEL codes: I23, I24, I25, I28, J62, O15

Keywords: postsecondary education, higher education, income inequality, income distribution, job mobility, social mobility, economic development, education policy