U.S.: No Land of Opportunity
Earnings mobility from one U.S. generation to the next is now about as low as Italy or France.
April 8, 2017
1. The United States is often perceived, by reputation, as the economically most dynamic of societies.
2. Accordingly, people should be able to advance independent of the wealth of their parents through hard work.
3. However, while some individuals do indeed tap into immense wealth in the United States – along the famous “rags to riches” narrative — without being born rich, the statistical reality is quite different.
4. “Intergenerational” earnings mobility is a measure of the likelihood that a generation will earn more in real terms than earlier generations within the same family.
5. On this, the United States actually scores third-lowest among the OECD countries. Even worse, the level of inequality in the working-age population is the highest.
6. The latest assessment of the national mobility (for 16 of the OECD economies) was conducted a decade ago, in 2008.
7. All the available evidence underscores that the results have only become more pronounced since then. Moreover, any changes are relatively slow to take effect.
8. This low ranking for the United States means not just that there is a great gap between rich and poor, but also that the children of rich people remain rich – and often becoming even richer.
9. And U.S. children not born wealthy are relatively unlikely to move up in income status after they enter the workforce.
10. Italy is the country the scores most closely to the United States in this context.
11. Italian youth have to contend with somewhat less inequality, but face a marginally worse level of social (im)mobility than is the case for the United States.
12. France, not known to be a country with a lot of socio-economic dynamism, has a much less unequal society than the United States.
13. However, France shares the same low rating in intergenerational mobility as the United States has.
Sources: The Globalist Research Center and OECD
US scores third-lowest among the OECD countries on "intergenerational" earnings mobility.
Not just is there is a great gap between rich and poor in the US, but also the children of rich remain rich – or even richer.
Italian youth face a marginally worse level of social (im)mobility than is the case for the US.