Connecting Dots Across Asia's Tech and Urban Landscape
Connecting Dots Across Asia's Tech and Urban Landscape

The Countries With The Highest Social Mobility

Social mobility is the ability of a child to have a better life than their parents, simply put. 

There are a lot of things to key in when it comes to the factors that affect this ability. This is what the World Economic Forum (WEF) intends to measure with their new metric called the Global Social Mobility Index.

Let’s summarize the key points of their study for the 2020 edition.


The Global Social Mobility Index is scaled from 0-100, with 0 being the worst possible value and 100 being the best.

For this year’s Index, 82 countries were ranked based on their index values.


Denmark emerges as this year’s most socially mobile country, racking up 85.2 points. It is followed by Norway and Finland, tying at 83.6. Next is Sweden (83.5), Iceland (82.7), the Netherlands (82.4),  Switzerland (82.1), Austria and Belgium (tied; 80.1), and Luxembourg and Germany (tied; 79.8).

It is clear that European countries take the lead when it comes to social mobility. Japan (76.1) at 15th place and Singapore (74.6) at 20th place are the only Asian countries on the top 20 rankings. For the sake of comparison, it should be noted that the United States trails off slightly at 27th place, garnering a score of 70.4.

Measuring social mobility

Measures of social mobility isn’t a new concept. What is common about these measures is that they are either income- or outcome-based. These approaches are disadvantageous in a sense that the variables being measured are time-bound. That is, they are only applicable during the time they were measured in.

WEF reinvents the measure of social mobility by basing the dimensions that determine the final metric on the drivers or determinants of social mobility. Specifically, they considered 10 pillars:

  1. Health
  2. Education access
  3. Education quality
  4. Lifelong learning
  5. Technology access
  6. Work opportunities
  7. Fair wages
  8. Working conditions
  9. Social protection
  10.  Inclusive institutions

In order to score high in the index, a country must be well-performing across these 10 pillars.

Improving social mobility

The World Economic Forum suggests that the largest equalizer for society will be the government. For starters, governments should begin reconfiguring their financial models for social mobility. Changes in income-based taxation and rebalancing the sources of taxation are some starting points.

They also suggest that the government pour in more funding for strengthening the education sector. The promotion of lifelong learning can also be made possible by encouraging skills development.

Policies that will protect workers regardless of their employment status should also be implemented especially now that we are in the age of frequent job transitions brought upon by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Businesses are also equally capable of helping the improvement of social mobility by rewarding upskilling and reskilling. Fair pay is also a must. The creation of industry-specific action plans that will address social inequalities is also recommended by the Forum.

“The response by business and government must include a concerted effort to create new pathways to socioeconomic mobility, ensuring everyone has fair opportunities for success,” according to WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

We cannot just stand idly and wait for the gaps to grow irreparably massive. As early as now, we should be taking action to put an end to social inequality.

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