Reporting on a new Harvard study that asks, "Is America the 'Land of Opportunity?'" Jim Tankersley writes:
Children growing up in America today are just as likely — no more, no less — to climb the economic ladder as children born more than a half-century ago, a team of economists reported Thursday.
Even though social movements have delivered better career opportunities for women and minorities and government grants have made college more accessible, one thing has stayed constant: If you are growing up poor today, you appear to have the same odds of staying poor in adulthood that your grandparents did.
The landmark new study, from a group led by Harvard’s Raj Chetty, suggests that any advances in opportunity provided by expanded social programs have been offset by other changes in economic conditions. Increased trade and advanced technology, for instance, have closed off traditional sources of middle-income jobs.
The findings also suggest that who your parents are and how much they earn is more consequential for American youths today than ever before.
Meanwhile in Davos this week, all the masters of the universe are gathered to discuss income inequality. David Cay Johnston sums up the issue:
Adjusted for inflation, Americans reported $1.1 trillion more income in 2012 than in 2009, when the Great Recession officially ended midyear. That’s a 15 percent real increase.
Where did that increase go? America’s 16,000 top-earning households enjoyed nearly a third of it. The top 1 percent captured 95 percent of the nation’s income growth. The top 10 percent of Americans, the best-off 31 million people, enjoyed all the national income growth.