W’Bank: Eco­nomic Mo­bil­ity Stalls in Nige­ria, Oth­ers in Last 30 Years

THISDAY - - BUSINESS/ MONEY GUIDE - Obinna Chima

Gen­er­a­tions of poor peo­ple in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries are trapped in a cy­cle of poverty de­ter­mined by their cir­cum­stance at birth and un­able to as­cend the eco­nomic lad­der due to in­equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity, a re­cent re­port by the World Bank Group has stated.

The re­port ti­tled: “Fair Progress? Eco­nomic Mo­bil­ity across Gen­er­a­tions Around the World,” noted that mo­bil­ity had stalled in the last 30 years.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Bank, a close ex­am­i­na­tion of six large de­vel­op­ing coun­tries – Brazil, China, Egypt, In­dia, Indonesia, and Nige­ria – re­vealed that eco­nomic mo­bil­ity rose in all of them from the 1940s to the 1980s, al­beit to vary­ing de­grees.

How­ever, it pointed out that since the 1960s, progress had slowed in four of these coun­tries “and com­pletely stalled in China and Nige­ria.”

“The global trends in gen­der con­ver­gence are seen in Brazil, China, Egypt, and Indonesia, where the mo­bil­ity gaps be­tween girls and boys are close to zero. No such con­ver­gence has taken place in In­dia or Nige­ria, where the gen­der gaps are al­most as large to­day as they were a half cen­tury ago,” it added.

The re­port tracked eco­nomic mo­bil­ity be­tween par­ents and their chil­dren through the prism of ed­u­ca­tion, a crit­i­cal as­set that in­flu­ences an in­di­vid­ual’s life­time earn­ings.

It looked at peo­ple born be­tween 1940 and 1980, and foud that 46 out of 50 coun­tries with the low­est rates of mo­bil­ity from the bot­tom to the top are in the de­vel­op­ing world.

Gen­der gaps, how­ever were clos­ing with girls in high-in­come coun­tries now out-per­form­ing boys in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion and catch­ing up in the de­vel­op­ing world.

It noted that in the not too dis­tant fu­ture, the share of girls with more ed­u­ca­tion than their par­ents would ex­ceed the equiv­a­lent share for boys glob­ally.

The abil­ity to move up the eco­nomic lad­der, ir­re­spec­tive of the so­cioe­co­nomic back­ground of one’s par­ents, con­trib­utes to re­duc­ing poverty and in­equal­ity, and may help boost eco­nomic growth by giv­ing ev­ery­one a chance to use their tal­ents, the re­port noted.

Peo­ple liv­ing in more mo­bile so­ci­eties are more op­ti­mistic about their chil­dren’s fu­ture, which is likely to lead to a more aspi­ra­tional and co­he­sive so­ci­ety.

“All par­ents want their chil­dren to have bet­ter lives than their own, yet the as­pi­ra­tions of too many peo­ple –es­pe­cially poor peo­ple – are thwarted by un­equal op­por­tu­ni­ties,” the World Bank Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Kristalina Ge­orgieva said.

“We need to in­vest in chil­dren from a very early age so that they are well-nour­ished and well-ed­u­cated; en­sure that lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are a safe place for chil­dren to grow, learn, and thrive; and level the eco­nomic play­ing field by cre­at­ing good jobs and im­prov­ing ac­cess to fi­nance.”

The re­port drew on a newly de­vel­oped Global Data­base of In­ter­gen­er­a­tional Mo­bil­ity with un­prece­dented cov­er­age of 148 coun­tries, home to 96 per cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

It painted a uniquely de­tailed picture of so­cio-eco­nomic mo­bil­ity and in­equal­ity of op­por­tu­nity around the world. It also sheds light on the pat­terns and driv­ers of in­come mo­bil­ity and their re­la­tion­ship with ed­u­ca­tional mo­bil­ity by ex­am­in­ing avail­able data from 75 coun­tries.

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