A standard goal of parenthood is that we want a better life for our children than we had ourselves. But if everyone pursues that goal, what happens to society?
Today's income gap, writes economist Richard Reeves for the New York Times, has also become a trap — or, rather, an opportunity gap. When economic inequality persists and stratifies, the result is generations of people who have no chance to move up the economic ladder.
In other words, for our society to have any economic mobility, some of those at the top will have to move down — or their children will. As Reeves writes, "If we want more poor kids climbing the ladder of relative mobility, we need more rich kids sliding down the chutes."
But they're not. "It is well known," Reeves writes, "that in the United States, income distribution has a 'sticky floor.' Two-fifths of children born into the poorest fifth of households remain there as adults. But it is sticky at the top, too: The same odds apply to those born into the richest fifth."
We look at the theories about social immobility and the ways people try and break out of their class.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SOCIAL MOBILITY
Community College May Hold the Key to Social Mobility
There is huge scope for improving mobility outcomes through the development of the community college system, especially by boosting Associate degree attainment rates and helping students transfer to 4-year institutions. And many states, schools, and nonprofits have begun to tackle these challenges head-on through a variety of innovative programs, including experimental performance-based scholarships and more flexible college curriculums (e.g., stackable credits and career pathways). Much more is needed, though. The question policymakers should perhaps be asking themselves this fall is: what's the secret to getting through community college? (Quentin Karpilow and Richard Reeves, Brookings)
Why Economic Mobility Matters
For more than two centuries, economic opportunity and upward mobility have formed the foundation of the American Dream, and they remain at the core of our nation's identity. As policy makers seek to foster equality of opportunity, it's critical that their decisions be informed by a robust and nonpartisan fact base on economic mobility. (Economic Mobility Project, Pew Charitable Trusts)