America: The Land of No Opportunity

Flash-forward to the present day and the American dream is no more. Shattered and fragmented pieces remain of a once noble ethos. Income inequality has continued to rise to levels reminiscent of the Great Depression while intergenerational income mobility has continued to stagger.

What does this mean for you? Basically, your parent’s income determines how much money you’ll be making throughout your work career. Don’t believe it?

Take a look.

Source: The Atlantic

The United States has seen a social mobility shift from the 1980s into the 2000s that has made it very clear that your humble beginnings will leave you with humble endings.

In comparison to many of the world’s developed nations the United States is the second worst compared to the United Kingdom. This is a pretty shocking development since the American dream has consistently valued “hard work” and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” in order to gain monetary success.

Research performed by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts found that 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths. Correspondingly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.

The American middle class has continued to struggle with a wavering mobility where 36 percent of adults raised in the middle fifth will move up while 41 percent will move down.

Source: Economic Mobility Project

The liberal standpoint has continually advocated against income inequality while the conservatives have used social mobility as their defense. However, with these recent findings, even conservatives like John Bridgeland, a former aide to President George W. Bush, has had no choice but to acknowledge this very real issue.

“Republicans will not feel compelled to talk about income inequality,” Mr. Bridgeland said. “But they will feel a need to talk about a lack of mobility — a lack of access to the American Dream.”

So what are we left with? The general idea is simple: the rich continue to stay rich and the poor continue to stay poor. The likelihood for advancement is decreasing and recent studies show that younger generations may even end up poorer than their parents.

Source: Equality of Opportunity Project

What is the solution?

Reducing income inequality is a major must, as social mobility is often much higher in countries with much lower income inequality. This means redistributing the wealth that continues to stay at the top of the income spectrum. Free college is another viable option that will greatly improve an individual’s chance at moving upward without the tangible fear of an enormous debt overriding their education.

Source: Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality

Canada, a country with similar ethnic demographics to the United States, has far less income inequality and far better social mobility.

So when did the American dream pack its bags and move to Canada?