Conventional wisdom, at least in the US: Work hard and get ahead in life.

The data says: If you start out poor, don’t be surprised if you stay poor. If you start out rich, don’t be surprised if you stay rich.

Upward mobility in wealth is apparently stalled in the US. It appears to be getting worse, partly from wealth inequality.

The top one percent held 31 percent of household wealth in 2019 compared to 24 percent in 1989, according to the Federal Reserve Board.” – Brookings

The article didn’t list the likeliest causes, but where you start has a strong influence on where you end up. That has consequences for lack of opportunity, entrenching cultural and historical inequalities, and stratification of society.

Wealth position is most rigid among those with the least and most wealth; half (49 percent) of those in the bottom wealth quintile in their early thirties are still there in their late fifties. At the other end of the ladder, half (53 percent) of those who start in the top quintile stay there.“- Brookings

Lack of opportunity is exacerbated because people in poor areas evidently can’t generate wealth locally as well as people born in rich areas, and people in poor areas can’t afford to move to richer areas to access those improved possibilities. Another effect of the housing situation. Apparently, individual and independent hard work is not enough. Systemic changes will probably be necessary, whether that is through tax reform, policy reform, subsidies, etc. The situation is not likely to improve quickly.

One thought on “US Upward Immobility

  1. Pingback: Data That Matters July 2022 | Pretending Not To Panic

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