« Today's Snark Prize Goes to | Main | Bob Rubin on Social Security »

June 01, 2005

David Francis on Mobility and Inequality

Mark Thoma reads the Christian Science Monitor, and finds a good article:

Economist's View: Is The American Dream Fading?: This article discusses the decline in income mobility in recent decades and asks if the US "...is becoming less of a meritocracy, where skill and intelligence determine success, and... more of a class-bound society...":

The American Dream gains a harder edge, By David R. Francis, CSMonitor.com: The American dream, at least on the economic side, is fading.... Today... nearly 1 in 5 American households has zero net worth or actually owes more than it owns. And the odds of a son or daughter rising above their parents in such a financial predicament have shrunk. 'Income mobility has declined in the last 20 years,' says Bhashkar Mazumder, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. What that means is that the US is becoming less of a meritocracy, where skill and intelligence determine success, and becoming more of a class-bound society, where economic background, including the better education money can provide, matters more.... Most Americans don't believe that to be true, surveys show. But academic studies suggest that income mobility in the US is no better than that in France or Britain. It's actually lower than in Canada and is approaching the rigidity of Brazil. That marks a change from the past.... From 1950 to 1980, Americans were more and more likely to see their offspring move up - or down - the income ladder.... Today, it could take five or six generations to close the gap between poverty and middle-class status, calculates Mr. Mazumder...

Posted by DeLong at June 1, 2005 04:55 PM