Matteo Ricci College
Poverty Education Center

PEC Blog Post

  • New research on the lack of social mobility in the US

    A new book by Karl Alexander reports on thirty years of research on a poor community in Baltimore. The results are further confirmation of limited social mobility in the US. In short, if you're born poor, you'll almost certainly die poor. This is an excerpt from a Mother Jones article about Alexander's book:

    "Alexander's findings conflict with the sort of Horatio Alger stories of American mythology, but not with other social science research on upward mobility. His are especially dispiriting. Of the nearly 800 school kids he's been following for 30 years, those who got a better start—because their parents were working or married—tended to stay better off, while the more disadvantaged stayed poor.

    Out of the original 800 public school children he started with, 33 moved from low-income birth family to a high-income bracket by the time they neared 30. Alexander found that education, rather than giving kids a fighting chance at a better life, simply preserved privilege across generations. Only 4 percent of the low-income kids he met in 1982 had college degrees when he interviewed them at age 28, whereas 45 percent of the kids from higher-income backgrounds did."

    Read the whole article, or look at the book.

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