Social Mobility Index: Bangladesh fares badly in social protection | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:47 AM, January 21, 2020

Social Mobility Index: Bangladesh fares badly in social protection

Ranked 78th out of 82 countries; Denmark tops the list prepared by World Economic Forum

Bangladesh performs very poorly in terms of providing social protection to its people, says a global report that sheds light on issues relating to the absence of minimum income benefits and the low quality of social safety schemes in the country. 

Bangladesh has been ranked 78th out of 82 countries in a new Social Mobility Index compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), while Denmark has topped the list.

The report released ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the WEF also said Bangladesh scored 40.2 while Denmark’s scored 85.2 out of 100.

An inclusive society must provide fair and equitable access to its justice system and its institutions, and provide safeguards against the persecution of historically excluded groups, but institutions in Bangladesh are often designed in such a way that they don’t serve everyone equally, said the report.

“It is not surprising at all. If accidents of birth had no impact on subsequent life opportunities, the mobility would have been a lot higher. But that is not the case in Bangladesh. Babies born in a poor family get poor nutrition which permanently damages their ability to succeed later in life,” Zahid Hussain, former lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office.

He said a person becomes the victim of discrimination in education because of the inability to compete on a level playing field. 

“Difference between wealthy and poor family in access to education is unambiguous,” he said.

The noted economist explained that discrimination between rural and urban education is visible. 

“Dropout rate is also related with wealth status. Access to credit, business opportunities and employment in Bangladesh depends to an important extent on the family background in terms of their wealth status and social connections,” he added.

Zahid said social mobility will not improve if we cannot liberate the population from constraints inherited at birth.

Increasing social mobility, a key driver of income inequality, by 10 per cent would benefit social cohesion and boost the world’s economies by nearly 5 per cent by 2030, the WEF report said. But few economies have the right conditions to foster social mobility.

WEF in the report suggested that governments should ensure a level playing field not just because it is the right thing to do, but it can benefit their economies.

The index ranked Denmark, Norway, Finland. Sweden and Iceland as its top five countries, registering over 80 points on a 100-point scale, while the United States came in at 27th, Russia 39th, and China 45th.

“If economies were able to improve their social mobility score by 10 points, (gross domestic product) would increase by 4.4% by 2030 on top of the societal benefits such investments would bring,” the forum said in a statement.

Measuring countries across five key dimensions distributed over 10 pillars -- health; education (access, quality and equity); technology; work (opportunities, wages, conditions); and protections and institutions (social protection and inclusive institutions) -- shows that fair wages, social protection and lifelong learning are the biggest drags on social mobility globally.


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