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Less Upward Mobility for U.S. Students Than for British

Britain has long had a reputation as rigidly divided by class, with little opportunity for people to move higher up the socio-economic ladder.

No more. There is now more upward mobility for students at British schools than in the United States, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). From the New York Times:

In Britain, a student whose parents never graduated from high school has a 60 percent chance of attending college, while in the United States the odds are just 29 percent, one of the lowest levels among the 34 countries with advanced economies that make up the OECD, which is based in Paris.

Piling on to the evidence that the U.S. working and middle class are falling further and further behind, the report also shows that while most OECD countries have significantly higher proportions of those ages 25 to 34 attaining higher education degrees compared with those ages 55 to 64, in the United States rates are relatively flat across the generations.

In the United States, along with Italy, Portugal and Turkey, young people from families with low levels of education are the least likely to obtain a higher level of education than their parents.

Additional findings include:

A college degree served as a cushion during the recession across the OECD countries. Unemployment rates for college degree holders rose from 3.3 percent to 4.7 percent from 2008 to 2010, compared with 4.9 percent to 7.6 percent increase for those who had only completed secondary education.

Wage gaps between those with college degrees and those without widened during the recession. While in 2008, a man with higher education could expect to earn 58 percent more than his counterpart with a secondary degree—and a woman, 54 percent more than her counterpart—by 2010 these figures had increased to 67 percent and 59 percent, respectively. The earnings premium on higher education is highest in Brazil.

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