Why climbing the social ladder keeps Britons happy

Sarah Spickernell
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Social climbing is healthy for the mind (Source: Getty)
Most of us view “social climbing” as a negative trait – we tend to associate it with people who are fake and use others to reach their own goals.
But whatever the people around them think, social climbers are are a happy bunch in the UK. A new study published in the Journal of Population Ageing reveals how, on average, Britons who climb the social ladder are happier and more content with life in old age than those who made no attempt to break into a higher social circle.
The researchers, from the University of Manchester, also looked at the effects of upward social mobility on people in the US, and found that the impact was less – on the whole, social climbing had less chance of bringing happiness to Americans.
Professor Bram Vanhoutte, lead researcher of the study, said:
We've discovered that English people who do manage to upgrade their social status substantially end up with a greater sense of autonomy and control.
In America on the other hand, people who have risen in society's ranks are less satisfied than those who haven't, raising serious questions on the practical merits of living the American dream.
That said, there is less social mobility in the UK than in the US. In the UK, half of people born working class will retire working class, while the same is true for a third of those in the US.
The study also found that unlike in the UK, growing up in a highly educated household in the US does not make a difference to level of happiness in later life.

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