Seminar on Climbing the Ladder: Socio-economic Mobility in Malaysia

This seminar investigated the existence and extent of inter-generational mobility in Malaysia, in terms of educational attainment, occupational skills level and income. 
Climbing the Ladder: Socio-economic Mobility in Malaysia

Dr Francis Hutchinson, ISEAS Senior Fellow and Coordinator, Malaysia Studies Programme, introducing the two speakers (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016 – The Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) recently completed the first nationally-representative study on inter-generational socio-economic mobility in Malaysia. KRI’s research director, Dr Muhammed Khalid, was at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute to present some of the key findings from the study.

Dr Muhammed Khalid presenting some of his key findings in relation to upward mobility (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

From the study, about 74% of the parents are of the opinion that their children will fare better than them. The results are similar for the Bumiputera and Chinese community but significantly lower for the Indian community (64%). However, about 90% of parents in the Indian community believe their children fared better than them. About 66% of parents believe that hard work is the key to upward mobility.

In terms of educational mobility, almost two-thirds of the children are better educated than their parents regardless of ethnic groups. About 33% of the children with parents without any formal education attained tertiary education. The corresponding figure for children of parents with tertiary education is 92%.

For occupational skill mobility, 85% of children have a higher or the same occupational skill level compared to their parents. Some 76% of children with low-skilled parents are better skilled.

Ms Hawati Abdul Hamid, Research Associate, at KRI, sharing some of her socio-economic findings with the audience (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Overall, half of the children earn a higher income than their parents. Children’s median income is higher compare to their parents’ except for those born to parents in the top quintile.

In terms of Intergenerational Earnings Elasticity, Malaysia compares favourably with other countries. In Malaysia, not more than 19% of children’s income is associated with parents’ income. The corresponding figure for the US is 47% and the UK 50%. Thus, Malaysia can be considered to be a relatively-mobile society. 

Participants at the seminar (Source: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)