The Myth of Mobility

A new study finds that the best way to get ahead is to be born there.

Americans enjoy an enduring belief that by dint of hard work and perseverance, anyone can attain the American dream.

Surveys find that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe it’s “still possible to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich,” while also discounting the value of family background and connections in achieving success. In a 2014 surveyby the Pew Research Center, just 18 percent of Americans said “belonging to a wealthy family” was “very important” for getting ahead.

But a mounting pile of evidence is beginning to show that family background is, in fact, determinative. Family incomes, for example, are highly correlated to rates of college attendance and completion.

Adding to this evidence is a new study – based on a unique longitudinal analysis of income tax data – finding that children largely inherit the income prospects of their parents.

Continued at the Washington Monthly…

About Anne Kim