Young people are highly sceptical about advancement being a reality, according to a survey from the relaunched Social Mobility Commission.
It found many young adults expected to be worse off than previous generations and believed opportunities depended on social background rather than talent.
The previous commissioners resigned over a lack of progress.
The new chair, Dame Martina Milburn, said she wanted "to create a fair system where people can thrive".
The commission is being relaunched after the previous chair Alan Milburn and commissioners walked out a year ago, protesting that there was no sign of any "meaningful action" from the government...
..."It is typically younger generations who feel more acutely that background determines where you end," says the commission's analysis. It found that:
75% of people believe "large gaps" still remain between social classes, highest in the north-east of England
40% of people think it is harder for the disadvantaged to catch up, compared with 21% who think it is easier
46% of people believe that progress depends on social background, compared with 33% who think it reflects talent. Younger people see social background as a bigger influence than older generations.
On housing, job security, job satisfaction and their "position in society", only a third or fewer think they are better off than previous generations
15% of 18 to 24-year-olds think their generation has the best chance of social mobility
37% of people think they are better off financially than a decade ago