Fewer than 1 percent of Americans are millionaires, but almost one in three believe they’ll end up among that group at some point

I love those statistics, although I always cock them up. This is from an article on Alternet, driven by new research from the Brookings Institution.

… new research suggests the United States’ much-ballyhooed upward mobility is a myth, and one that’s slipping further from reality with each new generation. On average, younger Americans are not doing better than their parents did, it’s harder to move up the economic ladder in the United States than it is in a number of other wealthy countries, and a person in today’s work force is as likely to experience downward mobility as he or she is to move up.

Moreover, the single greatest predictor of how much an American will earn is how much their parents make. In short, the United States, contrary to popular belief, is not a true meritocracy, and the American worker is getting a bum deal, the worst of both worlds. Not only is a significant portion of the middle class hanging on by the narrowest of threads, not only do fewer working people have secure retirements to look forward to, not only are nearly one in seven Americans uninsured, but working people also enjoy less opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps than those in a number of other advanced economies.

Several studies released in recent years suggest that, contrary to popular opinion, Americans enjoy significantly less upward mobility than citizens of a number of other industrialized nations (some of the studies can be accessed here, here and here). German workers have 1.5 times the mobility of Americans, Canada is nearly 2.5 times more mobile and Denmark is 3 times more mobile. Norway, Finland, Sweden and France (France!) are all more mobile societies than the United States. Of the countries included in the studies, the United States ranked near the bottom; only the United Kingdom came in lower.

Why France earns that reaction, I don’t know. Not being from here, I am only surprised that the UK was lower, and even then not by much, having lived there. Of course upward income mobility is poor, here – everyone not from here knows that.

Anyway, it’s an interesting article.

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1 comment so far

  1. Anonymous on

    There are MILLIONS of millionaires in America. What other country can say that?


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