LONDON – Japan has the 15th highest level of social mobility in the world, according to a report published Monday by the World Economic Forum.
Ranking highest among Asian countries, Japan scored high marks for educational and work opportunities. However, its rating was pushed down by low wages for workers.
Northern European countries dominated top spots in the social mobility rankings, with Denmark coming first, followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. South Korea came in at 25th place, while the United States took 27th and China 45th.
Higher levels of social mobility mean better opportunities for citizens to overcome historical inequalities to reach their full potential.
Averaged globally, the top 10 percent of the wealthiest people in the world earn some 3.5 times more than the bottom 40 percent, the report said. It noted that while low social mobility increases inequality, improvements in mobility will help bring about economic growth.
The report covered 82 countries, assessing the levels of mobility in 10 fields including health, education, technology and wages.
As it prepares for its annual gathering of leaders from the worlds of business, politics and finance in Davos, Switzerland, the WEF said it’s time to change the fact that a person’s lot in life is still largely determined by their socioeconomic status at birth. The result, it said, is that societies “too often reproduce rather than reduce historic inequalities.”
It said problems are widespread and most countries underperform on three key metrics — low wages, lack of social protection and poor lifelong learning systems.
“Inequality has become entrenched and likely to worsen amidst an era of technological change and efforts toward a green transition,” it said.