MOF Study: Relatively High Mobility among Younger Cohorts21 Feb 2013
The commentary Sustaining social mobility by Soon Sze Meng on 20th Feb 2013 cites that the "Ministry of Finance’s intergenerational income mobility study, which measured 38,500 father-son pairs for sons born between 1968 and 1978, shows evidence of lessening mobility among the poor."
Allow us to clarify. The MOF study did not find "lessening mobility", ie mobility that was declining over time or with successive cohorts. The question of whether income mobility is declining is indeed important, but it can only be answered when data of a longer horizon and for younger cohorts are available.
The cohorts studied (those born between 1969 and 1978) in fact experienced relatively high income mobility. There was some evidence of slightly lower mobility for sons of poor fathers. However, even for them, mobility was not low by international standards.
As the study noted in its concluding observations, we cannot presume that similarly high levels of mobility will persist. The government is therefore investing significantly to level up opportunities when children are young, and to strengthen and widen pathways for advancement at all levels. We also take the opportunity to thank Mr Soon for his suggestions towards Budget 2013.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Ministry of Finance