Social mobility in the time of Covid: assessing the social mobility implications of Covid-19

Publication type



The Economy 2030 Inquiry


Publication date

December 15, 2021


Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the economic prospects of young people. This briefing note, which forms part of the Economy 2030 Inquiry, documents the unequal impact of economic shocks on the young and assesses what these mean for social mobility.

Labour market conditions at the onset of one’s career have persistent effects over the course of the life cycle. Those entering the labour market in recessions have lower earnings than similar cohorts graduating in more prosperous times, and those who lose their jobs early in their career face wage penalties that persist until middle-age.

This note documents how the adverse labour market shock caused by Covid-19 has disproportionately hit the young and, in many cases, hit those from the least-affluent backgrounds the most. These changes are compounded by declines in general psychiatric health among the young. In addition, school-age children and teens from the least affluent backgrounds are also more likely to have seen a parent lose employment since March 2020.

The findings highlight the need for policies that are targeted towards the young and particularly towards policies that encourage social mobility and prevent the strengthening of the already strong link between ones’ economic origin and destination.





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