The Mobility Myth


Since at least the days of Horatio Alger, a cornerstone of American thinking has been the hope of social mobility—the idea that, as Lawrence Samuel put it in a history of the American dream, anyone can, “through dedication and with a can-do spirit, climb the ladder of success.” In recent years, though, plenty of Americans have come to believe that, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address, “upward mobility has stalled.” So it was a surprise recently when a team of economists from Harvard and Berkeley released a comprehensive study showing that mobility in the […]