'Upward Mobility' in Real Decline, Studies Charge

By Francis, David R. | The Christian Science Monitor, January 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

'Upward Mobility' in Real Decline, Studies Charge


Francis, David R., The Christian Science Monitor


Many older Americans were raised on Horatio Alger novels, the stories of poor boys using their wits and pluck to rise from rags to riches.

Success stories still happen, of course. Nowadays girls also rise from poverty to prosperity.

But for most of the poor, the United States is no longer the land of opportunity. Economic research in the past decade has found that upward mobility has faded; most of the children of rich parents stay rich and the children of the poor remain poor. "Economists in the past have underestimated the barriers to the children of the poor getting ahead," says Samuel Bowles, an economist at the Santa Fe Institute.

Actually, it is about two or three times as difficult for children of poor families to rise above their economic circumstances as economists reckoned in the 1970s and 1980s, he adds. "There was a bit of wishful thinking about equality of opportunity."

Further, the children of rich parents very seldom slide into the bottom half of the income ladder. Most retain at least a major chunk of their inherited wealth.

In general, Americans still believe their economic/social system is fair. Surveys show that both rich and poor think that economic success in life depends on hard work and willingness to take risks.

Certainly such attitudes can't hurt an individual's life prospects. But "there is a very substantial amount of blocked opportunity for people at the bottom," says Mr. Bowles. Often the poor are too fatalistic, lacking confidence in their ability to rise out of poverty..

The playing field is especially uneven for blacks, who face racial prejudice at work as well as educational and social difficulties. on top of that, Bowles finds that well-to-do blacks are less likely to transmit their wealth-building skills to their offspring than rich whites.

Bhash Mazumder, a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economist, calculates that on average fully 60 percent of the income gap between any two people in one generation persists into the next generation.

In the 1980s, studies found that only 20 percent of the income gap persisted. But improvements in econometrics show a gloomier picture - that poverty may well endure over several generations.

"For people to say we are a very mobile society, people will have to confront this evidence," says Mr. Mazumder.

All this is relevant to President Bush's economic program. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'Upward Mobility' in Real Decline, Studies Charge
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.