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State of the Nation 2022 report – key insights


July 15, 2022 | Paula Kemp

Our recently published State of the Nation 2022 report contains key insights on the state of social mobility right now in the UK. Using an innovative set of metrics, we were able to establish a new framework, the Social Mobility Index, to measure how socially mobile people are across the UK now, and in decades to come. 

Broadly, we found that social mobility is far more nuanced than many believe, with both cause for celebration and areas of concern. Here are some of our other key findings:


There are still more people moving upward to a higher occupational level than their parents, than people moving downwards. But this surplus is smaller than before. This is largely because the professional class has grown in the last 70 years so there are more people already starting at the top where moving further upwards is not possible.


Only 31% of disadvantaged pupils a Grade 5 or above in GCSE English or Maths, compared with 59.2% of all other pupils in the 2020/21 academic year.


The gap in educational performance between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children aged 11 was around 13% smaller in 2019 than in 2011. The impact of COVID does not yet show in the data.


The gaps between professional and working class backgrounds for both university participation and degree attainment narrowed between 2014 and 2021.


The rate of young people from working-class backgrounds not in employment, education or training (NEET) has decreased since 2014, and was the lowest reported on record in 2021 at 12.4%

You can find the full report on

More measurements will be added next year including a regional breakdown and data on other characteristics such as sex, ethnicity and disability. This will allow the SMC to analyse the effects of personal characteristics and geographical location on where people end up in terms of the job they do, and how much they earn, which will be invaluable in helping early thinking about policy solutions.

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