Social Mobility

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From the PEW Economic Mobility Project, 2012: Pursuing the American Dream

 

  • Eighty-four percent of Americans have higher family incomes than
their parents had at the same age,
and across all levels of the income
distribution, this generation is
doing better than the one that came
before it.
  • Ninety-three percent of Americans whose parents were in the bottom
fifth of the income ladder and 88
percent of those whose parents were
in the middle quintile exceed their
parents’ family income as adults
  • While a majority of Americans exceed their parents’ family incomes,
the extent of that increase is not
always enough to move them to a
different rung of the family income
ladder
  • Americans raised at the bottom and top of the family income ladder are
likely to remain there as adults, a
phenomenon known as “stickiness at
the ends.”
  • Forty-three percent of Americans raised in the bottom quintile remain
stuck in the bottom as adults, and
70 percent remain below the middle.
Forty percent raised in the top
quintile remain at the top as adults,
and 63 percent remain above the
middle.
  • Only 4 percent of those raised in the bottom quintile make it all the way
to the top as adults, confirming that
the “rags-to-riches” story is more
often found in Hollywood than in
reality.
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