Economic Mobility


A study on Economic Mobility released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that the majority (84%) of American adults continue to make more money than their parents did after adjusting for inflation. But it may be getting harder to climb to the higher rung(s) and the “rags-to-riches” stories we love to hear about, mostly happen in the movies. 

Only 4% move from the bottom income spectrum to the very top.  What is the take away from the Economic Mobility Project Report this year? Even in difficult economic times, we are doing better. And if getting rich quick is part of your day dream, you are wasting part of your day. 

What is equally interesting and troubling for those of us who work in higher education, is the profile of those who struggle the most to achieve a greater income level than their parents. According to the study, if you were raised in a home occupied by bottom level income earners, you are 43% more likely to be stuck there as an adult. Who has the most difficulty moving up the income ladder?  Adults without a college degree and African Americans.

We hear so much in the news about the cost of higher education and how a degree is becoming out of reach for many students. We talk a lot about the federal debt, raising Pell Grant eligibility, and state support for higher education being reduced. What we do not seem to be talking a lot about, is the investment higher education makes in the daily lives of Americans and the economy in which they live. Check out the report. It is a good read.