Many of the countries that have recently converted to a market-based economic system have also experienced an alarming increase in income inequality — a widening gap between the haves and have nots. But to what extent is the increase in inequality also increasing the opportunities for economic advancement — particularly for those at the bottom of the economic ladder? Does the creation of greater opportunities make a region’s move to the market politically acceptable? And, if opportunities don’t increase along with inequality, will it eventually cause a political backlash against a country’s market policies?
This book highlights the importance of finding the answers to those questions by examining the issues of social mobility and opportunity as an essential part of the income inequality puzzle. It provides a summary of the latest research on the economics and politics of social mobility in both developed and emerging market economies, including the conceptual issues involved and the challenges of accurately documenting trends. The book concludes with a discussion of the economics of opportunity and mobility in Latin America and Eastern Europe, and the politics and perceptions of mobility in the two regions.