Social mobility: past, present and future

Think tank: The Sutton Trust

Author(s): Andrew Eyles; Lee Elliot Major; Stephen Machin

June 1, 2022

This report from UK think tank the Sutton Trust looks at the state of play in social mobility, on the 25th anniversary of the Sutton Trust.

The study of social mobility can be traced back around 100 years, but up until the turn of the millennium it remained largely an academic topic. While a few seminal papers on income mobility had been published in the 1990s, the Sutton Trust’s 2005 report, ‘Intergenerational Mobility in Europe and North America’ signalled a new wave of social mobility studies that have proliferated over the last two decades. To mark the Sutton Trust’s 25th anniversary, this report examines the latest developments in social mobility research since the landmark 2005 report, as well as how the field has changed and developed over the last 25 years. Authored by Andrew Eyles, Lee Elliot Major and Stephen Machin from the Centre for Economic Performance and the University of Exeter, it also looks at new and updated estimates of mobility patterns and future trends in the UK.