Social Class: Social Mobility
Americans often think of their society as one which allows anyone to get ahead, as long as they are willing to work hard. However, the evidence suggests that…
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"Income Mobility" is a reflection of how much equal opportunity a society has--the ability of a child to rise to a higher socio-economic class than the one in which he/she was born (the American Dream). The higher bar in the graph below, the LESS mobility (equal opportunity) that country has; a son's earnings are highly correlated not with their individual talents & efforts, but rather with what their father earned... Source: Corak, 2006
Children's likelihood of earning more than their parents by birth year and income percentile The chance that a baby boomer would earn more than their parents was much higher than the chance a millennial would. Source: Equality of Opportunity Project
Greater Economic Segregation Is Associated with Lower Mobility Select U.S. metropolitan areas by economic mobility and neighborhood stratification Note: The 34 metro areas shown above are represented in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and are among the 50 most populous metro areas, according to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The 12 most populous metro areas are labeled for ease of identification. Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
College Graduates Are More Upwardly Mobile from the Bottom and Less Likely to Fall from the Top and Middle, 2013 There's only a 10 percent chance that a college graduate from the bottom quintile will end up in the top quintile, but a 25 percent chance that a non-college grad from the top quintile will stay there. Rich kids without a college degree are 2.5 times more likely to end up rich than poor kids who graduate from college. Source: Pew Economic Mobility Project
(1 of 2) Social Mobility Matrix, White Americans Roughly 16 percent of white children and only 3% of black children born into the poorest 1/5 of US families will rise to become a member of the top 1/5 by the time they turn 40 years old Source: Reeves, Richard V. & Isabel V. Sawhill. 2014. "Equality of Opportunity: Definitions, Trends, and Interventions," Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Chance of out-earning your parents by age 30, by year of birth: 1940: 92% 1950: 79% 1960: 62% 1970: 61% 1980: 50% Source: “The Fading American Dream: Trends in Absolute Income Mobility Since 1940” by Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca and Jimmy Narang
"Going up? Or down?" - This is an illustration from a 1916 advertisement for a vocational school in the back of a US magazine. Education has been seen as a key to economic mobility, and this advertisement appealed to Americans' belief in the possibility of self-betterment, as well as threatening the consequences of downward mobility in the great income inequality existing during the Industrial Revolution.
63% of all Americans said most children in the U.S. won't be better off than their parents, even though 54% said they are better off than their own parents. [click on this image to find a short video and analysis examining social mobility in the United States and why the so-called American Dream is more of a reality in parts of Europe] Source: CNNMoney's American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International, 2014
This map shows the average percentile rank of children who grow up in below-median income families across areas of the U.S. (absolute upward mobility). Lighter colors represent areas where children from low-income families are more likely to move up in the income distribution. To look up statistics for your own city, use the interactive version of this map created by the New York Times
"Hard Work Doesn't generally bring success. It's more a matter of luck and connections" or "In the long run, hard work usually brings a better life" [click on this image to find a short video and analysis exposing the gap between the actual and perceived distribution of wealth in the United States] Source: World Values Survey, via P.a.p.-Blog // Human Rights Etc. *We couldn't find the year to which this chart refers