ERIC Number: ED500256
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America
Isaacs, Julia B.; Sawhill, Isabel V.; Haskins, Ron
While the American Dream remains a unifying cultural tenet for an increasingly diverse society, it may be showing signs of wear. Growing income inequality and slower growth suggest that now is an important moment to review the facts about opportunity and mobility in America and to attempt to answer the basic question: Is the American Dream alive and well? This report summarizes research and provides new evidence on both the extent of intergenerational mobility in the United States and the factors that influence it. In sum, the research reviewed herein leads us to the view that the glass is half empty and half full. The American Dream is alive if somewhat frayed. Chapter I of this report provides new data on how today's families are faring relative to their parents. Most of the historical analysis, detailed in Chapter II, reveals that there has been no strong trend in relative mobility since about 1970, although a few studies suggest that relative mobility may have declined. The international comparisons analyzed in Chapter III reveal that there is less relative mobility in the United States than in many other rich countries. Chapter IV, which reviews the current data on wealth and its effects on intergenerational mobility, concludes that parent-child wealth correlations are similar to parent-child income correlations but that each generation does have a reasonable shot at accumulating assets. Finally, chapters V, VI, and VII look beyond the story for all families to examine how mobility may have varied for men and women, for blacks and whites, and for immigrants and native-born Americans. Appended are: (1) The PSID Sample and Family Income; (2) Non-Cash Contributions to Family Economic Well-Being; (3) Four-Part Typology of Economic Mobility of Sons and Daughters; (4) Four-Part Typology: Economic Mobility of White and Black Families; and (5) Research Literature on Black-White Differences in Intergenerational Income Mobility. (Each chapter contains tables, figures, notes, and resources.)
Descriptors: Age Differences, Cohort Analysis, Family Income, Democratic Values, Economic Change, Economic Progress, Occupational Mobility, Immigrants
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA.
Authoring Institution: Brookings Institution, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Location: United States
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A