'Movin' On Up' in America? Not So Much, These Days

Studies reveal large mobility gap
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2012 2:40 PM CST
'Movin' On Up' in America? Not So Much, These Days
The US has a 'mobility gap' among its classes.   (Flickr)

The idea of "movin' on up" has long been an integral part of the American Dream, but a discouraging amount of research shows it's not as easy as it once was to elevate oneself from humble beginnings. In fact, America has less economic mobility than much of Western Europe and even Canada, reports the New York Times. Liberals have long discussed the mobility gap, but now conservatives—who used to argue that the US income gap was not as important as its high mobility—are coming to the table. "It’s becoming conventional wisdom that the US does not have as much mobility as most other advanced countries," says an economist. "I don’t think you’ll find too many people who will argue with that."

Some numbers culled by the Times, which seem to contradict the notion that America is a classless society:

  • About 62% of Americans raised in the top fifth manage to remain in the top two-fifths, while 65% raised in the bottom fifth remain in the bottom two-fifths.
  • Of American males raised in the bottom fifth, 42% remain there as adults. In Denmark, that number is 25%; in Britain, 30%.
Why? Deep poverty and single parenting could be partly to blame. The fact that employers value college degrees may also contribute, because children are likely to follow a similar education path as their parents. Click for the full article. (More mobility stories.)

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