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英文解釈の思考プロセス 第152回


今回の題材は、2016年10月22日付の The Economist 紙に掲載されたエッセイ、A class apart ”隔たった階級”  です。サブタイトルに Improving social mobility will mean allowing rich children to move down as well as poor ones move up.  Does the government have the stomach for it?  “社会の流動性を向上させることは、貧困層の子供達が社会的階層を登ることだけではなく、富裕層の子供達が社会的階層を滑り落ちることも許容することを意味するはずです。政府にそれを本腰を入れて実行する気はあるのでしょうか。”とある様に、社会的流動性が益々失われている英国の現状に光をあてたエッセイです。全文の和訳はオリジナルの次にあります。

Social mobility

A class apart

Improving social mobility will mean allowing rich children to move down as well as helping poor ones to move up. Does the government have the stomach for it?

Oct 22nd 2016 | From the print edition


THERE is little doubt about which subject will define Theresa May’s government. But the prime minister has made clear that during whatever time is not gobbled up by Brexit negotiations she wants to turn Britain into “a country that works for everyone”. Such talk is hardly new. In 1990 John Major spoke of his desire to forge “a genuinely classless society”. Every prime minister since has made similar noises. Yet few have placed as much emphasis on social mobility as Mrs May.

This focus is inspired by the fact that, by many measures, Britain is not a socially mobile place (see chart). Many also sense that things have taken a turn for the worse. Like most rich countries, after the second world war Britain saw a big increase in the number of well paid, white-collar jobs. The proportion of people born to parents in professional or managerial jobs tripled between the generation of 1946 and the one born in 1980-84. Poor children won places in the civil service or the City of London, earning far more than their parents. But as the creation of professional jobs slowed, the scope for children to make dramatic leaps up the social pecking-order narrowed. In this sense the Britain of today is a less upwardly-mobile place than that of Mrs May’s youth.


The overall picture is more complicated. Mobility is measured not only in absolute terms—that is, how well people fare compared with their parents—but also in relative terms, meaning how well they do compared with their peers. By this definition, the change has been somewhat less dramatic. Among men born in the poorest income quartile in 1958, 31% remained there as adults. Among the generation born in 1970, the figure crept up to 38%. Academics who study mobility based not on income but on social class—normally defined by occupation type—detect even less change. By their reckoning, mobility has changed little during the past century (although women became a bit more mobile, probably reflecting better access to education and work). Most see little prospect of an increase in mobility in years to come.

But not all are so gloomy. The gap in exam performance between rich and poor children is falling, notes Jo Blanden of Surrey University. In 2005 30% of children eligible for free school meals got five good grades at GCSE, the exams taken at 16, compared with 59% of others. By 2013 that 29 percentage-point gap had shrunk to 16 points. There has been a similar narrowing of the difference in university participation rates and performance in SATs, the exams taken at 11. Since studies suggest that more than half of the link between parental and child income develops as a result of what happens in the classroom, the convergence of rich and poor pupils’ exam results bodes well for social mobility.

What goes up…

Yet the slowing down of the economy from its post-war clip means that the increase in well qualified youngsters has no corresponding increase in good jobs. In the past, there was plenty of room at the top. Now, it is painfully clear that social mobility must mean people going down as well as up.

Well-off parents have many weapons with which to defend their children from this fate. The bluntest is by passing on wealth. Last year the government announced plans to shield inheritances of up to £1m ($1.2m) from tax. And money helps youngsters to maintain an educational edge. In 1996 just 4% of Britain’s workforce had postgraduate qualifications; today 11% do. The relative scarcity of funding for postgraduate study means postgrad qualifications are more open to wealthy students. Moreover, the graduate wage premium is highest for those at the most prestigious universities, where the gap between rich and poor pupils has remained wide.

Access to good jobs is increasingly gained through internships, often unpaid and given out informally. The government has shown limited interest in enforcing the minimum wage in this area (indeed, two years ago Mrs May’s Conservative Party wrote to its MPs with advice on diplomatic ways to advertise unpaid internships). Thus, even among children with identical educational qualifications, the privately schooled are more likely to get the best jobs and to take home fatter pay-cheques, according to a study in 2014 by academics at the UCL Institute of Education and Cambridge University.

Chipping away at these privileges will not be easy. But in an era of limited growth, improving social mobility is as much about dismantling the barriers that keep wealthy children at the top as it is about pulling poor children up from the bottom. Promising to increase social mobility has long been a popular pledge. It may become a more controversial one when voters realise that mobility goes in two directions.

From the print edition: Britain

< 全文和訳例 >

いずれのテーマがテレサ・メイ首相に率いられて英国政府の責務を明らかにするのかに関して、ほとんど疑問の余地はありません。しかしメイ首相は、EUからの離脱交渉は膨大な時間を要するにせよ可能な限り時間を捻出して、英国を”国民全員の為の機能する国家”へと変容させることを望んでいると明言してきました。首相によるその様な談話は何ら目新しいものではありません。1990年代に(保守党の)ジョン・メージャー首相は、”真の意味で階級の存在しない社会” を築くという彼の願望を語りました。それ以降に就任した全ての首相は、同様の内容を述べてきました。しかし、社会的流動性の活性化を、メイ夫人程重視してきた首相はほとんどいませんでした。


もっとも、この問題の全体像はより込み入っています。社会的流動性は、絶対的な条件 ― 即ち、両親と比較してどれだけ生活が豊かになっているか ― だけではなく、同世代と比較して暮らし向きがどうであるかという相対的な条件によっても測定されます。この定義によると、社会的な変化はそれ程めざましいものではありません。1958年に、収入の額に応じた4つの階層の最下位層の家庭に生まれた男性の内、31%が成人になっても最下位層に留まっていました。1970年に生まれた世代では、その値は38%へと上昇していました。収入ではなく社会的階級 ― 通常は職種によって定義されます ― に基づいて社会的流動性について研究している学者達は、より一層小さな変化しか見出していません。彼らの算定した値によると、英国の社会的流動性は過去の1世紀を通してほとんど変化していません(もっとも、恐らくは教育を受ける機会が広がったことで女性の流動性は若干高くなっています)。彼らの大半は、この先何年にも渡り社会的流動性の上昇は見込めないと考えています。






次回の題材は、2016年10月31日付の The Guardian 紙に掲載された、現MI5長官、アンドリュウ・パーカー氏のインタヴュー記事、’Increasingly aggressive’ Russia is a growing threat to UK, says MI5 head  ”’日に日に激しさを増す’ロシアの諜報活動は益々英国の脅威となっている、とMI5の責任者は述べています” です。MI5(英国国内で防諜活動を行っている(国外での情報収集活動を行っているのはMI6))の107年の歴史の中で、現職の長官として初めて新聞のインタヴューに応じたパーカー氏がロシアの見えざる脅威について語っています。

To be continued.