How to give all Australians an equal start in life

by Fred Argy in The Age
Originally published in The Age on April 18, 2006

Social scientists have sought to measure the degree of upward income mobility (the ability of low-income people to rise up the ladder over time) and found that some nations perform better than others on this criterion. Looking back over recent decades, Australia emerges as a more mobile (less “sticky”) society than the United States, Britain and Germany. This may be because successive Australian governments embraced more social activism than the US and Britain but did more to cultivate an open and flexible economy than Germany. This is the past. The future is much less clear. A discussion paper I have written for the Australia Institute, Equality of Opportunity in Australia – Myth and Reality, highlights the many (often growing) barriers to upward mobility faced by Australians from low income backgrounds over their lifetimes (relative to their better-off co-citizens).

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