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.