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Old Apr 26th, 2006, 07:24 PM        Rags to Riches Dream an Illusion

America's rags-to-riches dream an illusion: study
By Alister Bull
1 hour, 30 minutes ago

America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America," a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

By contrast, a child born rich had a 22 percent chance of being rich as an adult, he said.

"In other words, the chances of getting rich are about 20 times higher if you are born rich than if you are born in a low-income family," he told an audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank sponsoring the work.

He also found the United States had one of the lowest levels of inter-generational mobility in the wealthy world, on a par with Britain but way behind most of Europe.

"Consider a rich and poor family in the United States and a similar pair of families in Denmark, and ask how much of the difference in the parents' incomes would be transmitted, on average, to their grandchildren," Hertz said.

"In the United States this would be 22 percent; in Denmark it would be two percent," he said.

The research was based on a panel of over 4,000 children, whose parents' income were observed in 1968, and whose income as adults was reviewed again in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.

The survey did not include immigrants, who were not captured in the original data pool. Millions of immigrants work in the U.S, many illegally, earnings much higher salaries than they could get back home.

Several other experts invited to review his work endorsed the general findings, although they were reticent about accompanying policy recommendations.

"This debunks the myth of America as the land of opportunity, but it doesn't tell us what to do to fix it," said Bhashkar Mazumder, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who has researched this field.

Recent studies have highlighted growing income inequality in the United States, but Americans remain highly optimistic about the odds for economic improvement in their own lifetime.

A survey for the New York Times last year found that 80 percent of those polled believed that it was possible to start out poor, work hard and become rich, compared with less than 60 percent back in 1983.

This contradiction, implying that while people think they are going to make it, the reality is very different, has been seized by critics of President Bush to pound the White House over tax cuts they say favor the rich.

Hertz examined channels transmitting income across generations and identified education as the single largest factor, explaining 30 percent of the income-correlation, in an argument to boost public access to universities.

Breaking the survey down by race spotlighted this as the next most powerful force to explain why the poor stay poor.

On average, 47 percent of poor families remain poor. But within this, 32 percent of whites stay poor while the figure for blacks is 63 percent.

It works the other way as well, with only 3 percent of blacks making it from the bottom quarter of the income ladder to the top quarter, versus 14 percent of whites.

"Part of the reason mobility is so low in America is that race still makes a difference in economic life," he said.
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Preechr Preechr is offline
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Old Apr 26th, 2006, 08:37 PM       
Well, don't I look silly.

If an assistant professor from American University amends onto some of his previously ignored work that focused primarily on the race disparity, and then it's reported on by some random person from Reuters, who am I to disagree.

I actually feel better now that I know the truth about things.
mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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The One and Only... The One and Only... is offline
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Old Apr 26th, 2006, 11:01 PM       
The odds of a rich kid remaining rich into adulthood is only 22%?
I have seen all things that are done under the sun; all is vanity and a chase after wind.
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ziggytrix ziggytrix is offline
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Old Apr 26th, 2006, 11:05 PM       
apparently the 50% that die of cocaine overdoses before adulthood skews the curve.
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Sethomas Sethomas is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2006, 12:36 AM       
I read a few weeks ago in a highly slanted article about IQ that as long as human breeding is done the old fashioned way, being that we can't isolate smart genes and manually force them into a zygote's genome quite yet, both extremes of the intelligence spectrum will favor a shift toward the norm with every progressive generation. Wikipedia even provided a nice equation to calculate the most probable IQ for offspring given the parents' IQs and the norm for their respective culture. Low IQ parents will have children smarter than them, and high IQ parents will have kids dumber than them. I found this to be a surprising concession for an article that seethed of eugenic attitudes. I don't know how accurate the equation is for describing large populations at a purely statistical level, but it's starkly obvious that it doesn't mean shit for individuals. My father is a brilliant man who nevertheless grew up very apprehensive of intellectualism, prefering old-fashioned work ethics, loyalty, and integrity. Most people who talk to him think he's an idiot until he explains any of several medical imaging technologies to them, talking about technological applications of physics most people have never heard of. My mother's IQ is probably a little less than 100, but her determination to become a nurse paid off and she's perfectly capable of her tasks in the operating room. According to that equation, my IQ should be somewhere in the middle, but it's not. It's just too bad I didn't inherit my parents' work ethics, lest I actually make something of myself someday.

A kid I knew in high school had a father who was a brilliant and affluent architect, but the kid himself was dumb as rocks and couldn't blame it on chromosomal disorders. In French class the only base knowledge he ever displayed was that he recognized Mont Blanc as the namesake of his daddy's pen collection, and he didn't stay in the foreign language program long after it was made clear that he had no competency in English in the first place.

If you want to draw an association of IQ with income, as many love to do and many others hate to do, I think the numbers presented in this article are realistic.

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El Blanco El Blanco is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2006, 09:22 AM       
How do they define "rich" and "poor"?

And do people know what "opportunity" actually means?
according to my mongoose, anyway.
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Kulturkampf Kulturkampf is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2006, 10:12 AM       
I agree with El Blanco.

The article seems vague... And the statements are... Stupid.

If we are defining rich as millionaires, than really does it matter?

I am so happy with what I have, and it i snot that much (but it is more than mburbank).
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Ant10708 Ant10708 is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2006, 10:37 AM       
Do you have to take a lame hit at Max in every fucking post you make? He hasn't even posted in this thread.
I'm all for the idea of stoning the rapists, but to death...? That's a bit of a stretch, but I think the system will work. - Geggy
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Kulturkampf Kulturkampf is offline
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Old Apr 27th, 2006, 11:36 AM       
It was incredibly lame...

Lame like a crippled duck!
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mburbank mburbank is offline
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Old Apr 28th, 2006, 10:24 AM       
You need to cut down on the booze.

Unless you were sober when you posted that, in which case you really need to cut down on the head trauma.
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