To have or not to have — Social Connections.

I just saw a movie where a lower status/income person was, through no circumstance of their own, forced to socialize with a group of high income people. Needless to say, it did not go well — for anyone. The scary part of it was that it reminded me clearly that such social interaction failures were likely to occur in real life due basically to very different lifestyles, different points of views of society and life values, different career pursuits, different thinking about money and time, and simply, how to live a happy enjoyable day that keeps them happy without offending others. Easier said than done.

The disparity of upward mobility of lower income groups versus higher income groups according to a study by Raj Chetty, Stanford Economic Professor, has just 4.4% of rising to the top 20% income bracket. This disparity is very real and very hard to bridge. The differences are much more than superficial or simple to correct. One group is lucky if they are able to play basketball on a free court after school, get a ride home afterwards, work to help pay bills or have the discretionary money for entertainment, social activities, or resources to get from place to place. The higher income group may enjoy the social amenities mommy and daddy can provide for them like country club membership, tennis lessons, theatre, movies, sporting events, digital devices, etc. Their lives are indeed very different.

Thus, as the income disparity increases, the lifestyles of these two socioeconomic groups also change significantly and the opportunity for increased meaningful social contact and communication with many others who have money and social connections diminishes. Education also is affected and this hurts communications as well between the groups. Frequently other values are affected such as what is expected of themselves versus others, their responsibility to society, and more. Basically they are in two different real worlds.

These differences are hard to bridge but recent articles in the Stanford Magazine shows how some of those life styles can start to be bridged — thus decreasing the gap between income groups. One was to provide grants to lower income groups to permit their lives to be raised to higher levels for everything from education opportunities, to assistance in paying bills, to assistance in finding jobs and eventually to living in higher income areas. It really takes a good mixture of these elements to make a significant difference in income mobility. Given a good mixture of these element resulted in a significant reduction in the gap between groups, and one of the authors indicated the person(s) with these opportunities frequently becomes sustainable on their own (no assistance needed), and, actually makes enough income in their lifetime to pay for the original assistance they received years earlier.

There is no simple answer to upward income mobility for those in the lower income groups. However, there are some strong suggestions from various studies that include:

1) Bridging the Digital Divide (train those who need these skills).

2) Socialization: Usage of various social media groups and tools such as Facebook with the use and training of tools like mobile devices and ‘smart’ phones.

3) Assistance in receiving grants for increased opportunity for training low income groups that includes education assistance, technology training, bill payments, and eventually improved living conditions.

4) Assistance and training for new and better paying jobs, including technology training for use of job employment tools and resources, including job interview training.

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