The Social Mobility Index is a framework for measuring social mobility in the UK. It enables a systematic look at social mobility outcomes, as well as the drivers behind social mobility. It sets out a long-term vision for measuring and monitoring social mobility outcomes over the next 30 years across the UK.
The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) published the first Social Mobility Index in 2016. The original index included data on geographic disparities across England in some social mobility drivers.
What the Social Mobility Index measures
The new index measures:
- drivers of social mobility
- intermediate outcomes
- mobility outcomes
Drivers of social mobility – looking at the future
Drivers are the background conditions that make social mobility easier.
Drivers include factors like childhood conditions, such as the education and occupation level of your parents, and work opportunities for young people. There is evidence to show that they can help increase rates of upward mobility for groups with historically lower rates. These factors also reduce the influence of your parents’ circumstances on your social mobility chances.
Intermediate outcomes – looking at the present
Intermediate outcomes measure the progress people make from their starting point to an early end point. These include outcomes such as employment in their 20s, or school results at 16 years old.
We break outcome measures down by people’s socio-economic background. This is so that we can see how different starting points affect progress to certain end points.
Mobility outcomes – looking backwards
Mobility outcomes measure progress to a later end point, such as people’s employment or income in their 40s or 50s.
The index will continue to develop over time as our understanding improves and new data becomes available.
We will also analyse how someone’s socio-economic background, geography and personal characteristics, such as sex, ethnicity, and disability influence their outcomes. This will provide a more detailed picture of mobility in the UK for both policymakers and the public.
Data on social mobility
- New social mobility data is due to be published as part of the SMC’s annual report, State of the Nation, in September 2023
- The Social Mobility Index 2016 (PDF) – you can also download the accompanying methodology (PDF) and data (XLS)
What is social mobility?
The term ‘social mobility’ can have different meanings.
In the SMC’s work, it refers to the difference between your life outcomes and those of your parents. This is sometimes referred to as ‘intergenerational social mobility’.
For example, if you have a professional occupation and your parents had a working-class occupation, you have experienced upward occupational mobility. If you have a high income and your parents had a low income, you have experienced upward income mobility.