European Social Immobility and Inequality are Intimately Related

By Terence Tse and Mark Esposito

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Europe has seen an increase in inequality and immobility across social spectrum of labour and its productivity.  This article argues that social mobility is necessary for the revival of the European economy and its competitiveness and wonders why the social debate in Europe is not necessarily capturing this shade of grey, which seems to have slipped from the media attention, preoccupied mainly by unemployment statistics.


One of the most staggering collaterals of the financial crisis, globally but particularly so in Europe, has been the increase of inequality across social fabrics.  Although with a US centric perspective, the worries of what was happening, had been outlined in a previous work, conducted for a sister publication in the LSE family.

As the attention was being narrowed to a more micro level, bearing in mind the state of mobility and recruitment, we had argued that résumés are messing up recruiting. This is because these curricular vitae lead recruiters to put disproportional emphasis on skills, work experience and schools attended, rather than on what truly counts such as the applicants’ behaviour, work ethics or abilities to fit into a company’s culture. And these are all arguably more important qualities of good managers. But with HR managers placing too much attention on previous work experience and schooling can come with a huge social cost: such common recruitment practice tends to favour those people from well-off families. These families often have strong ties with prestigious employers, making it more likely for their children to be placed there. They are more likely to be able to afford private education, which has often manifested itself to be a passport to good jobs. In short, the current employment practices give applicants from wealthy backgrounds some distinct advantages.

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