Welcome to America, land of the free, home of the high intergenerational earnings elasticity.

What’s that, you say? You don’t know what intergenerational earnings elasticity is? Well, it’s basically a measure of how hard it is to for someone to end up in an income class different than that of their parents. So if you're rich, a lot of elasticity is a good thing. If you're poor, not so much.

And the U.S. has about twice as much of this elasticity as its Canadian neighbors to the North, according to research by University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak. That means Americans are much less likely to escape the circumstances of their birth than in Canadians. So much for the American Dream.

The problem really isn’t in the middle of the income ladder, where the two countries are rather similar, according to Corak. Instead, the real difference between the two countries exists on the periphery, among the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. There, American sons are remarkably more likely to end up in dad’s income tier.

Take a look at this chart, which shows how likely American (blue) and Canadian (pink) rich kids are to end up on certain rungs of the income ladder:

rich dads

As you can see, American rich kids are much more likely to stay rich. Yay for freedom! Now let’s look at the other end of the ladder. Here is how likely poor American boys are to stay poor compared to impoverished Canadian kids:

poor dads

Same story, more or less. So while you may have heard this week that new research found some 20 percent of U.S. adults make more than $100,000 at some point at their lives, remember: At the top and the bottom of this country, we're more likely than our neighbors to the North to stay right where we were born.

(h/t CNNMoney)

Also on HuffPost:

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  • The Great Gatsby Curve

    "The Great Gatsby Curve shows that children born in countries with high levels of income inequality will experience less economic mobility on average than children born in more equal countries," the <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/12/05/46817/5-charts-that-show-how-increasing-income-inequality-leads-to-less-opportunity/">Center for American Progress</a> reports.

  • Getting Ahead

    "Economic mobility is determined by three major institutions that all interact with income inequality: the family, the market, and the state. Changes in any of these three areas affect the rate of mobility in a country, "the <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/12/05/46817/5-charts-that-show-how-increasing-income-inequality-leads-to-less-opportunity/">Center for American Progress</a> reports.

  • Parents Matter

    "Countries with high levels of income inequality also have higher levels of teenage parenthood. Teenage parents cannot invest in their children as much as other parents can due to their lower average incomes and lower levels of human capital, which harms the chances for opportunities for their children," the <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/12/05/46817/5-charts-that-show-how-increasing-income-inequality-leads-to-less-opportunity/">Center for American Progress</a> reports.

  • Labor Market Inequality Matters

    "Countries also have lower levels of intergenerational economic mobility when the difference between the pay of college graduates and noncollege graduates is larger," the <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/12/05/46817/5-charts-that-show-how-increasing-income-inequality-leads-to-less-opportunity/">Center for American Progress</a> reports.

  • Access To Education Matters

    "Access to high-quality education is also important, as countries have lower levels of economic mobility when a child’s educator is more determined by who educated her parent," the <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2012/12/05/46817/5-charts-that-show-how-increasing-income-inequality-leads-to-less-opportunity/">Center for American Progress</a> reports.