Filipino success still not totally based on hard work, says study

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THE Philippines placed 61st among 82 nations in a report measuring social mobility, suggesting that Filipino success does not depend entirely on hard work and is likely to be affected by family and socioeconomic background.

The country placed fifth among the seven Southeast Asian nations in the first Global Social Mobility report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), which measured the health, education, technology, work, social protections and the efficiency of countries’ institutions.

“Creating societies where every person has the same opportunity to fulfil their potential in life irrespective of socioeconomic background would not only bring huge societal benefits in the form of reduced inequalities and healthier, more fulfilled lives, it would also boost economic growth by hundreds of billions of dollars a year,” WEF said in an emailed statement.

The WEF report said economies with greater social mobility provide more equal and meritocratic opportunities regardless of socioeconomic background, geographic location, gender and origin.

A country that increased its global social mobility score by 10 points would translate to additional gross domestic product growth of 4.41% by 2030, according to the report.

The top five socially mobile countries were Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Among Southeast Asian nations, Singapore led at 20th place, followed by Malaysia (43), Vietnam (50) and Thailand (55).

The Philippines came ahead of Indonesia (67) and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (72). The Philippines scored 51.7 while top-ranking country Denmark scored 85.2 points. Singapore scored 74.6 points.

Few economies have developed the conditions that create social mobility, WEF said, identifying low wages, lack of social protection, inadequate working conditions, and poor lifelong learning systems for workers and the unemployed as areas for improvement.

“As a consequence, inequality has become entrenched and is likely to worsen amidst an era of technological change and efforts towards a green transition,” it said.

“The social and economic consequences of inequality are profound and far-reaching: a growing sense of unfairness, precarity, perceived loss of identity and dignity, weakening social fabric, eroding trust in institutions, disenchantment with political processes, and an erosion of the social contract,” World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

“The response by business and government must include a concerted effort to create new pathways to socioeconomic mobility, ensuring everyone has fair opportunities for success.”

Social mobility also shifts according to industry and location, with media and entertainment professionals encountering more workplace inequality and rural and low-income workers facing limited professional connections.

To increase social mobility, WEF said a new financing model that rebalances the sources of taxation must be created.

“Improving tax progressivity on personal income, policies that address wealth accumulation and broadly rebalancing the sources of taxation can support the social mobility agenda,” according to the report.

WEF also said that access to education must be improved, promoting skills development throughout workers’ lives. WEF added that people must have social protection outside their jobs, as workers have more flexible work relationships.

Companies can contribute by improving meritocratic hiring, paying fair wages and participating in upskilling programs. — Jenina P. Ibañez