The Structural factors that drive social mobility are education reforms, economic growth, reduction of discriminatory practices, urbanization, technological advancement, welfare expansion, and better connectivity to aid social mobility.

Structural Causes

Advanced education system – When education policies promote equal access and opportunities for upward mobility through learning, it provides skills and qualifications.

Economic development – During periods of strong economic growth, more jobs and industries are created, opening doors for social advancement. Rising prosperity lifts people out of poverty.

Reduction of discrimination – When unjust biases and barriers related to gender, race, religion, etc., are removed from institutions like hiring practices and wage-setting, fairness increases mobility chances.

Urbanization – Mass migration to cities exposes people to new social networks and environments that can foster economic opportunities absent in rural areas. Visibility of talents rises.

Technological progress – The emergence of innovative industries and the adoption of labor-saving technologies displace some jobs but simultaneously create new, better-paid roles that more people can access through retraining.

Expanding welfare systems – Public programs that aid healthcare access, early childhood education, worker re-skilling, etc., help equalize life chances and enable disadvantaged demographics to invest more in their human capital.

Development of transportation – Improved mobility of people and goods through advanced infrastructure allows commuting to new job markets and participation in emerging economic sectors located further away.

Potential Challenges or Drawbacks To Implementing Structural Causes of Social Mobility

Large-scale reforms like universalizing education or expanding welfare programs require heavy investments that burden public finances. Reforms may threaten existing power structures and vested interests, facing opposition from elites benefiting from the status quo. Benefits may take time to trickle down evenly across regions/groups due to gaps in implementation capacity and local socio-economic disparities.

Some policies like minimum wages could raise employer costs and potentially reduce job opportunities for the unskilled. Over-reliance on welfare without concurrently boosting employability can foster aid dependence instead of self-sufficiency. Structural changes administered through new public programs and funds are prone to issues like leakages, inefficiencies, and capture by special interests. Growth opportunities in certain areas or industries may lead to unwanted urbanization stresses or displacement of specific communities. Deep-rooted, multi-generational inequities need sustained, multi-pronged efforts beyond policy fixes to transform mindsets hindering mobility.

Examples of Structural Changes

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Countries like Brazil and Thailand rapidly expanded education access, reducing illiteracy and boosting labor outcomes. Land ceilings and redistribution in South Korea and Taiwan eliminated absentee landlordism, facilitating smallholder prosperity. India’s program brought grid connectivity and productive opportunities to hundreds of millions previously left out.

Organizations like Grameen Bank BRAC in Bangladesh empowered millions of women entrepreneurs with targeted credit. Reserving public jobs and university seats in India boosted Other Backward Class representation in white-collar sectors. Mexico’s Prospera program slashed poverty and inequality by incentivizing preventive healthcare and education.


Structural factors like education quality, employment opportunities, discrimination, wealth concentration, and lack of social safety nets often perpetuate intergenerational inequality and limit social mobility based on circumstances of birth rather than talents and efforts. Addressing root causes is essential for a just, mobile society.

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