US continues to fall in upward mobility – the American dream is now a relative myth

In an article in US News called “The upward mobility ‘American Dream’ has been broken. Look at the numbers” by Bella Cangelosi, a key myth continues to fall.

The United States has long been proud to be a very fluid society in terms of social class and economic liquidity. The American Dream believes that anyone who works hard can be financially successful.

Underlying this belief is the premise of abundant opportunities and meritocracy. Immigrants who arrive often believe that they have come to a land of opportunity, in a place of equal competition that enables them to progress and succeed. Otherwise, you tend to blame yourself.

However, recent research shows that the United States today has far less liquidity and equal opportunity than the European Union and other OECD* countries.

First, the amount of economic advantage passed from one generation to the next is (higher in the US).  About 50% of the father’s income is inherited by his son. In contrast, the amount in Norway or Canada is less than 20%.

How about the rise from rags to wealth? In the United States, 8% of children raised in the bottom 20% of the income distribution can rise to the top 20% as adults. Denmark At 15%, it almost doubles

In the United States, equal opportunity is far less feasible than in other OECD countries. Life expectancy in America (trails others and is impacted by postal code). The quality of education also depends greatly on the wealth of the neighborhood in which the family lives. Also, the potential for crime victims, exposure to environmental toxins, and unmet medical needs is far greater for the poor in the United States than for all other poor people. OECD countries.

One of the reasons for the reduced mobility in the United States is that the ladder steps have grown further away, making it much more difficult to climb the ladder of opportunity. This is evidenced by rising levels of income and wealth inequality. Currently, people in the top 20% of the income distribution earn almost nine times as much as those in the bottom 20%. This difference is much greater than in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Wealth inequality is further distorted. In America, the top 5% of the population owns three-quarters of the country’s total financial assets, while the bottom 60% owns less than 1%.

Our book provides one explanation for these trends. Not well understood: America is wrong about poverty.. The United States has traditionally seen economic successes and failures as a result of individual efforts. Rough individualism and independence have defined the qualities of an American character. On the other hand, our European neighbors are much more likely to attribute poverty to structural factors such as social class and lack of work. As a result, other OECD countries are much more eager to invest in a robust social welfare state designed to help remedy some of these structural inequality.

The rest of the article can be accessed below. This is not a new phenomenon, only an underreported one. This is not a racial problem, it is an American one. We have been on the decline now for some time, we just get caught up in talking about the wrong issues and not the ones that should matter.

When US citizens look at an economic distribution charts of wealth or income, they wrong chart is thought to be the US more often than not. The one that shows higher numbers at the lower strata is the US as contrasted to other countries’ distributions. We are the country behind the others. Until we recognize this fact, we truly cannot address our problems.

*OECD = Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

The upward mobility “American Dream” has been broken.Look at the numbers | US News –


20 thoughts on “US continues to fall in upward mobility – the American dream is now a relative myth

  1. Until the average citizen of the US understands that only gov’t regulation and oversight can create a level playing field with common rules, poverty and economic inequity is going to get worse. It’s the ‘get worse’ part most people don’t seem to grasp, believing as they do that with enough individual gumption and drive, upward mobility is there for the taking. Nu uh. This is unquestionably a downward trend for the next generation to inherit. The future is not better and brighter when the rules of the game only favour on side.

    Imagine that great American sport of football if all the refs worked for one team and reported to them. Imagine if the rules allowed differences based on team membership, always favouring the funding team to create and maintain a inherent competitive advantage throughout the game.

    That’s what we have. The ‘outcome’ is already determined.

    Gov’t regulation is the rule book. Oversight is the referees. What’s important, then, is to insist on gov’t independence from business and not cooperation with business in the same way the rules of football have to apply to all players equally and implemented by non biased referees consistently.

    That’s why the very first step to address poverty and economic inequity has to be a fundamental change: campaign reform finance, to make the playing field the same for everyone. This is where the trickle down effect – from politics to legislation to law to individual opportunity – actually works over time to reverse poverty and economic inequity trends.

    • Tideb, this is well said. The rules are stacked well in favor of those “haves.” The amount of effort used to fool people, throwing them a few bones, is amazing as the purpose is to take advantage of them feathering their own caps. Keith

    • Dear Keith and tildeb,

      Nothing much is fresh news in this said article. Nevertheless, I found the following rather counterintuitive and have not yet encountered the same or similar claim elsewhere before:

      Research has shown that more racially heterogeneous societies tend to be less generous in their economic redistribution policies to address structural inequities. The reason for this may be that we tend to be less concerned about the needs of others when they look different from us. On the other hand, countries that are racially homogeneous tend to have much more robust social safety nets.

      Specifically, I find the explanation “The reason for this may be that we tend to be less concerned about the needs of others when they look different from us” somewhat problematic and not entirely convincing (unless concrete empirical data is available), and therefore wonder whether a better or alternative explanation could be offered as follows:

      Many or most heterogeneous societies have had to deal with diverse needs and plurality, and therefore their economic (re)distributions are already more equitable at baseline or by default, and thus they merely seem “to be less concerned about the needs of others” if or when they indeed have already had more time and experience to iron out issues of inequality to a larger degree or proportion in the first place when compared to their racially homogeneous counterparts.

      What do you reckon, Keith and tildeb?

      • My answer about relating the social safety net to how homogeneous a population may be is, “I don’t know.” At best I suspect it may be a correlation (even though there is a pretty solid biological basis for this preference). But I don’t think the hypothesis holds true in fact.

    • Dear Keith and tildeb,

      I would like to clarify my previous comment further. On its own, the observation or finding “we tend to be less concerned about the needs of others when they look different from us” can be valid and may be demonstrated to be true via empirical research.

      However, citing that observation or finding as a possible explanation for another observation or finding that “more racially heterogeneous societies tend to be less generous in their economic redistribution policies to address structural inequities” — when other possible, plausible, better or multifactorial explanations can exist and need to be considered — is inherently problematic.

      • Soundeagle, you raise a point that is larger than just this. Is a factor causal or correlated? And, if it is causal, is it the main cause or just one of several? Asian communities have handled the pandemic better than multicultural communities, but it is more due to a community mindset or ethos. When told the truth and what they must do, they tend to act as one more so than we do here in America and elsewhere.

        I think it is a possible argument for your contention that because people look like and know their neighbors, they may be more willing to accept steps to help the greater good. Fear is the big selling point to many and is how the previous president got elected. The further divisiveness he caused may be his worst legacy.

        To me, there are few one reason causes to pretty much anything. So, your question is a good one. Keith

      • Dear Keith,

        It is delightful that you and I are in agreement. Indeed, single-reason causes are as rare as single-gene physical attributes, symptoms or defects.

        I wonder whether you have come across or read Robert D. Putnam’s book entitled “The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again”. I am nowhere near as optimistic as the author is. After all, America and the whole world were very different a century ago.

        By the way, I would like to inform you that my post entitled “Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity” has been greatly extended and is now divided into twelve sections, each of which can be accessed instantly from the navigational menu at the top of the post.

        I am very keen and curious to know what you think or make of the much-extended version of the post. I would be delighted if you could kindly enlighten me by submitting your feedback to my said post, so that I may improve it even further. Thank you in anticipation.

        May you find the new Springtime very much to your liking and highly conducive to your writing, reading, thinking and blogging whatever topics that take your intellectual fancy!

        Happy Sunday!

  2. Excellent, Keith, and it ties in with a newsletter/email I received yesterday from Robert Reich. Until the wealthy and corporations no longer get away with highway robbery in the form of tax cuts, pseudo deductions, etc., we will remain as we are, with opportunities for the average Joe being limited or even nil. I am linking to this post in my p.m. post. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: The Wealthy Are Killing Us | Filosofa's Word

  4. You totally depicted the situation in the U.S. which underscores the difficulty for people to get ahead in this country. Great article with more facts than answers at the moment.
    Excellent! 🌷🙏

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