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As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls

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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-05 01:21 AM
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As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls
As Rich-Poor Gap Widens in the U.S., Class Mobility Stalls

Those in Bottom Rung Enjoy Better Odds in Europe; How Parents Confer an Edge
Immigrants See Fast Advance

By DAVID WESSEL
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May 13, 2005; Page A1


(snip)

But the reality of mobility in America is more complicated than the myth. As the gap between rich and poor has widened since 1970, the odds that a child born in poverty will climb to wealth -- or a rich child will fall into the middle class -- remain stuck. Despite the spread of affirmative action, the expansion of community colleges and the other social change designed to give people of all classes a shot at success, Americans are no more or less likely to rise above, or fall below, their parents' economic class than they were 35 years ago.

(snip)

But over the last 10 years, better data and more number-crunching have led economists and sociologists to a new consensus: The escalators of mobility move much more slowly. A substantial body of research finds that at least 45% of parents' advantage in income is passed along to their children, and perhaps as much as 60%. With the higher estimate, it's not only how much money your parents have that matters -- even your great-great grandfather's wealth might give you a noticeable edge today.

Many Americans believe their country remains a land of unbounded opportunity. That perception explains why Americans, much more than Europeans, have tolerated the widening inequality in recent years. It is OK to have ever-greater differences between rich and poor, they seem to believe, as long as their children have a good chance of grasping the brass ring. This continuing belief shapes American politics and economic policy. Technology, globalization and unfettered markets tend to erode wages at the bottom and lift wages at the top. But Americans have elected politicians who oppose using the muscle of government to restrain the forces of widening inequality. These politicians argue that lifting the minimum wage or requiring employers to offer health insurance would do unacceptably large damage to economic growth.


(snip)

Even Karl Marx accepted the image of America as a land of boundless opportunity, citing this as an explanation for the lack of class consciousness in the U.S. "The position of wage laborer," he wrote in 1865, "is for a very large part of the American people but a probational state, which they are sure to leave within a longer or shorter term."

(snip)

One reason that the once-sharp differences between social mobility in the U.S. and Britain narrowed in the 20th century, he argues, is that the regional economies of the U.S. grew more and more similar. It became much harder to leap several rungs of the economic ladder simply by moving.

(snip)

Write to David Wessel at david.wessel@wsj.com

URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111595026421432611,0...


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sabra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-05 01:26 AM
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1. more here
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Erika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-14-05 01:47 AM
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2. Bush closed out these hopes to our citizens
while expanding them to world globalists. He's a "winner". His economic birth status guaranteed that.
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