Malaysians an up­wardly mo­bile lot: Khaz­anah Re­search

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has a high rate of ed­u­ca­tional, oc­cu­pa­tional and eco­nomic mo­bil­ity, where rags-to-riches sto­ries are pos­si­ble, ac­cord­ing to a study by the Khaz­anah Re­search In­sti­tute (KRI).

The study in­ter­viewed 4,999 par­ent-child pairs in a rep­re­sen­ta­tive sur­vey con­ducted through­out Malaysia and com­pares par­ents who were 35 years old be­tween 1980 and 1995 and their adult chil­dren aged 25 to 40 in 2015.

Its lat­est pub­li­ca­tion “Climb­ing the Lad­der: So­cio-eco­nomic Mo­bil­ity in Malaysia” found that in terms of ed­u­ca­tional mo­bil­ity, 62% of chil­dren are bet­ter ed­u­cated than their par­ents. Among those born to par­ents without for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, 33% have at­tained ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

In terms of oc­cu­pa­tional skill mo­bil­ity, 76% of those whose par­ents had a low-skill oc­cu­pa­tion now have a medium-skill or high­skill oc­cu­pa­tion. About 37% of the chil­dren are bet­ter skilled than their par­ents.

The study also re­vealed that chil­dren’s in­come is fairly in­de­pen­dent of par­ents’ in­come. Chil­dren born to par­ents in the bottom quin­tile do not gen­er­ally stay poor as adults, while those born to par­ents in the top quin­tile do not nec­es­sar­ily stay rich as adults.

“Malaysia is a mo­bile so­ci­ety. One’s start­ing point is not the most im­por­tant fac­tor for mo­bil­ity,” KRI chair­man Tan Sri Nor Mo­hamed Yak­cop said at the launch of the pub­li­ca­tion last Fri­day.

“The chal­lenge is to keep the mo­men­tum of mo­bil­ity to make sure the in­come of the peo­ple is enough for them to live a rea­son­ably good life,” he said.

The study analy­ses the ex­is­tence and ex­tent of in­ter­gen­er­a­tional mo­bil­ity in Malaysia, in terms of ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment, oc­cu­pa­tional skills level and in­come.

How­ever, it found that there is a mid­dle-class squeeze for chil­dren born to mid­dle-in­come par­ents. Many of th­ese chil­dren do not only move down the in­come lad­der, they also earn less than their par­ents.

Direc­tor of re­search Dr Muhammed Khalid said more em­pha­sis should be placed on the so­cio-eco­nomic growth of the mid­dle class as they are more vul­ner­a­ble to ex­pe­ri­ence down­ward so­cio-eco­nomic mo­bil­ity, without re­duc­ing the sup­port for the pock­ets of poverty which still per­sist.

“In­clu­sive devel­op­ment is vi­tal in en­hanc­ing so­cio-eco­nomic mo­bil­ity in or­der to pro­mote so­cial co­he­sion and greater equity for the next gen­er­a­tion,” Muhammed said.

Other pol­icy im­pli­ca­tions are to fa­cil­i­tate wider ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties that can en­hance up­ward mo­bil­ity.

The study ob­serves that only 5% of In­di­ans born to par­ents without for­mal ed­u­ca­tion have at­tained ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, com­pared with 44% for the Chi­nese and 33% for bu­mipu­tras.

Muhammed called for poli­cies fo­cus­ing on re­mov­ing gen­der bar­ri­ers and en­cour­ag­ing higher fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in the labour mar­ket to be con­tin­ued.

Poli­cies that fo­cus on as­sist­ing chil­dren from ru­ral ar­eas are also vi­tal while poli­cies that raise in­come and pur­chas­ing power must be pur­sued, he added. - by Ee Ann Nee

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