Links Between 'having hope' and 'increasing social mobility' in the US and UK

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Links Between 'having hope' and 'increasing social mobility' in the US and UK

Exhaustive search of the public domain discovered no direct correlation - qualitative or quantitative - between increasing social mobility and 'hope,' primarily because 'hope' is not considered a factor of significant importance to social mobility. Indirect correlations indicate that lack of hope is directly related to lack of social mobility in the UK; whereas in the US, indirect metrics of 'hope' are not directly related to the reality of social mobility opportunities. This difference between the two nations has been anecdotally correlated to the ingrained concept of the American Dream on the American psyche.

METHODOLOGY

Since the previous researcher found a scarcity of resources specific to hope relative to social mobility, I chose to focus the primary research path for this brief on social mobility relative to hope. My research encompassed reports, surveys and studies on social mobility by academic, governmental and NGO entities, as well as media articles referencing these reports and surveys.

Please note that I extended my search timeline to the past decade, for three reasons:
1. The study of social mobility, by its nature, often requires longitudinal research.
2. In academia, older research is considered relevant, and continues to be referenced, until disproved or significantly updated. This holds particularly true relative to social mobility, in which field recent studies are more likely to discover refined understanding of older concepts rather than generate entirely new factors underlying social mobility.
For example, the 2007 composite report of various social mobility research studies draws on studies that are 7+ years older, yet it remains relevant because the categories of primary factors relative to social mobility have not changed significantly in the past 1-2 decades.
3. Studies of the interface between social mobility and subjective assessment (for example, well-being) are rare in comparison to studies which examine the interface between social mobility and objective assessments (for example, geographical location or unalterable demographic factors).

UK SOCIAL MOBILITY AND HOPE

My research discovered a media analysis of the 2017 UK Social Mobility Index, in which the chair of the Social Mobility Commission posits that "youthful pessimism is becoming the norm" in the UK and that this pessimism is related to the decline in social mobility. Review of the 2017 Social Mobility Index itself did not generate any further insight relative to hopefulness; the above analysis appears to be based on a composite overview of the trends in the 16 indicator categories surveyed rather than any indicator that is specifically related to 'hopefulness.' However, while this analysis correlates lack of hope with decreasing social mobility, the opposite relationship cannot necessarily be inferred.

A 2015 study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Social Sciences, found a connection between intergenerational social mobility and subjective assessment of well-being. While 'hope' is not directly measured in 'social well-being' (SWB) metrics - which tend to focus on broader categories such as "health, happiness and life satisfaction" - it is reasonable to assume that a person with a higher perception of subjective well-being is also likely to have a higher level of hope. "The three questions [regarding SWB] thus tap the general or overall state of well-being rather than the momentary fluctuations of mood, reflecting the more stable aspects of people’s life experience...Further analysis also revealed that the upwardly mobile have significantly higher scores [in well-being]than do the downwardly mobile."

US SOCIAL MOBILITY AND HOPE

Despite the fact that social mobility in the US is quite limited, optimism regarding mobility prospects - which reasonably correlates with 'hope' - is relatively high: during the US Great Recession, 71% of survey respondents believed that their personal success was largely dependent on their own work ethic and skill, indicating a favorable inclination for 'hope' despite the stable and very low rate of social mobility in the US. This inverse relationship between optimism/hope and limited social mobility is correlated with the prevalence of American belief in the 'American Dream,' which doesn't have a corollary in British culture.

A less-directly related US study from 2012 proposed the theory of 'economic despair,' in which low social mobility and inequality motivate behaviors which later studies found to contribute to lack of social mobility. Specifically, low social mobility was found to have a causal relationship on high school drop out rates (in combination with other factors), by virtue of the fact that lack of motivation to participate in education appears to have a direct relationship with lack of upward social mobility. However, like the UK study noted above, the opposite relationship cannot necessarily be inferred, especially in light of other data which indicates a lack of correlations between hope and the true opportunity for upward social mobility in the US.

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up: while studies on the intersection between hope and upward social mobility do not exist in published resources, there are multiple studies on social mobility relative to well-being, perceptions of optimism, and economic despair. These studies correlate lack of hope with lack of upward social mobility, although this does not necessarily prove the opposite relationship to be equally true. They also correlate upward social mobility with higher self-assessment of well-being. However, data also indicates that, in the US, optimism is not directly related to the true opportunities available for social mobility.
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Sources