Category Archives: Mobility

Why the Solutions to Economic Mobility Are Local

In 1940, 92 percent of kids in America could grow up to do better than their parents, economically-speaking. Today, that’s just 50 percent. The American Dream, in other words, comes down to a coin toss. This issue, it turns out, really comes down to the neighborhood inequalities.

“While this is a daunting national trend, its roots are really at the local level,”says Raj Chetty, an economist at Stanford University, speaking at CityLab Paris , an annual convening of city leaders. And because each locale has its own constellation of problems dragging down its residents, solutions need to be data-driven and […]

Wealth inequality has been widening for millennia

A flower seller looks for possible buyers at a seafront in Mumbai June 25, 2008. REUTERS/Arko Datta (INDIA)

Nothing new … the gap between rich and poor goes back hundreds of years, finds study The debate about social inequality across the world has intensified in the past few years.

In particular, the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States have been seen as outpourings of rage by the “left behind" communities that feel ignored by powerful “elites”.

The argument was reignited by a vote in the US senate on 1 December to pass tax reforms that include scrapping inheritance taxes for the wealthiest and reducing corporation […]

Education Isn’t the Key to a Good Income

A man climbs a ladder.

One of the most commonly taught stories American schoolchildren learn is that of Ragged Dick, Horatio Alger’s 19th-century tale of a poor, ambitious teenaged boy in New York City who works hard and eventually secures himself a respectable, middle-class life. This “rags to riches” tale embodies one of America’s most sacred narratives: that no matter who you are, what your parents do, or where you grow up, with enough education and hard work, you too can rise the economic ladder.

A body of research has since emerged to challenge this national story, casting the United States not as a meritocracy […]

Job Flexibility Helps Poor People Move to the Middle Class

It’s been well documented that one of the best predictors of a person’s economic status is the economic standing of their parents. While that’s good news for those whose parents are well-off, it’s really bad news for economic mobility. A new study from the St. Louis Fed attempts to discern precisely what factors contribute to this phenomenon, and how those factors might be manipulated to increase economic mobility in America.

The paper’s authors, George-Levi Gayle and Limor Golan of Washington University in St. Louis; and Mehmet A. Soytas of Ozyegin University, looked at several characteristics to figure out the factors […]

SIDDIQUI: Tax cut plan doesn’t set good example for other nations

While in Saudi Arabia attending the seventh Nonprofit Development Forum, I was fascinated by reports that the Senate had made a deal on tax reform. In Saudi Arabia, I presented case studies on how the U.S. government works with the not-for-profit sector in service delivery. The hope was that the Saudi Arabians could use lessons learned as they developed a new yet rapidly growing sector in the quest to build a balanced economic system as part of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030.

As the day unfolded and I listened to amazing presentations and follow-up questions, I was struck by the search […]

Nation’s top 1 percent now have greater wealth than the bottom 90 percent

The wealth gap is growing faster than the income gap — and now, if all U.S. wealth is thought of as 100 slices of pie, the wealthiest one fifth of households would have 90.

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Woolf. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Woolf’s data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly […]

Black women are earning more college degrees, but that alone won’t close race gaps


There are wide, stubborn economic gaps between black and white households in the U.S. Why? Many factors are at work, of course, including lower rates of upward mobility , discrimination in the labor market , big differences in rates of incarceration , disparities in access to quality education , historic exclusion from home ownership , and so on.

College education is often seen as a powerful tool to close race gaps. But it is at best only a partial answer, for four reasons:

> the gap in college achievement is as wide as ever black Americans with a BA are […]

What Ancient Houses Tell Us About McMansions and Inequality

Archaeological ruins in the outline of a house, with trees and mountains in the background

A larger house in El Palmillo, a site in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo: Linda Nicholas. It’s not hard to tell rich neighborhoods from poor neighborhoods. Wealthy parts of town generally have nicer cars, clean, well-groomed lawns, and, most strikingly, giant sprawling mansions. It’s nothing new: across cultures, wealth and power have been tied to large homes for thousands of years.

A group of scientists, including Field Museum anthropology curator Gary Feinman, recently explored the link between house sizes and inequality. Based on a sample of more than 60 cases, they discovered that on the whole, patterns of inequality in Eurasia over […]

Asia’s New Politics of Outrage

Stunning mini-revolutions have erupted in recent months in two of the world’s largest Muslim countries. The first shock came in Indonesia, where a little-known group of activists led a mass protest against the Christian governor of Jakarta. Accused of disrespecting the Prophet, the governor, a close ally of the country’s president Joko Widodo, is now in prison . In Pakistan in late November, another pop-up political outfit besieged the capital city Islamabad, forcing the government to concede to all their demands, which included the harsh implementation of blasphemy laws.

Neither country suffers from a scarcity of laws aimed at detractors […]

N.C. Senators vote to ignore the poor, serve the rich

Richard Burr and Tom Tillis voted enthusiastically last week for the Senate tax bill. No hesitation on the home front. The North Carolina boys are all in for the McConnell-Trump knavery.

Burr and Tillis know, or should, the following. The United States is the wealthiest country on earth. It also has higher poverty, and especially, child poverty rates than any other advanced nation. It has the advanced world’s greatest income inequality – the largest gaps between rich and poor. It has among the worst economic mobility rates – if you’re born poor here, you are more apt to stay that […]