It takes up to 11 generations for lower-class families in certain Latin American nations to reach average income, says a new study published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The report, entitled 'A Decomposed Social Elevator? How To Promote Social Mobility?' shows the disparity between class income has grown over the last three decades: a "disturbing" revelation regarding nations and their social mobility.
According to the OECD, it would take at least six generations for poor families in Chile and Argentina to overcome poverty, while in Brazil it would take at least nine generations and in Colombia, at least 11.
In Chile, only about 17 percent of children from the lowest social strata successfully make the transition into the elite 20 percent. Of that 20 percent, about 42 percent of their offspring and descendants will regress back to the lower classes.
For this reason, to many Chileans, higher education is considered paramount to a financially successful future. Roughly 54 percent of the population believe higher education is the deciding factor, while 37 percent of the OECD agreed. However, only about one-third of the population has completed any.
"Too many people feel that they are falling away and that their children have very poor opportunities to succeed. We must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed, especially the most disadvantaged, and that growth also becomes inclusive," said OECD Cabinet Director Gabriela Ramos.
With federal investments into educational programs, however, social mobility will be inevitable, Ramos said, adding that other countries have executed similar programs and met with success.
"This situation can be changed with good policies... it is not just a question of investing more, but of investing better," the OECD director said, noting that training programs for disadvantaged groups would help close the gaps in Chilean society.