Intergenerational Mobility

Upward mobility is a measure of equality of opportunity, which describes the extent to which individuals born at the bottom of the socioeconomic distribution can move up in the distribution. A place with high upward mobility is one where your parents’ position in the hierarchy does not fully determine your life outcomes. In places with high mobility, people can attain high economic status even if they start out poor.

Stalled progress.

Average upward mobility in India has not improved from the preliberalization era to the present. Sons and daughters born into families at the bottom of the distribution are just as likely to stay at the bottom of the distribution today as they were in the 1950s.

Mixed for Minorities.

Upward mobility has risen substantially for members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and remained high for the rest of the population (Forward Castes, Other Backward Castes (OBCs), and others). Muslims are now the least upwardly mobile group in India.

Place matters.

There is substantial local geographic variation in upward mobility. Our paper examines these geographic patterns and their correlates. View a national-level map of mobility here, and an interactive map of mobility in Delhi here.

Gender, Villages, and Towns.

Mobility is higher for girls than boys in urban areas, but much higher for boys than girls in rural areas.

More information

For further details please download our working paper, which documents trends in upward mobility in India from the 1950s to the present.

View the press kit here.

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