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Times letter 18 August 2017

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Sir, Politicians refuse to accept the awkward truth that cognitive ability is significantly shaped by the genes we inherit from our parents.

In Social Mobility Delusions, my 2012 report for Civitas, I reviewed six government or parliamentary reports on social mobility, only one of which mentioned “innate ability”.

Improving social mobility is one of the government’s key aims, yet it routinely ignores one of the principal influences on occupational attainment. Politicians tell us it’s unfair that, on average, children of professional and managerial parents outperform those from working-class backgrounds. But how much of this difference is down to their genes?

The truth is, unless we factor natural ability differences into our analysis, we don’t even know if we have a social mobility “problem” that government needs to solve.
Peter Saunders
Professorial fellow, Civitas

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