THE BLOG
03/19/2013 04:14 pm ET | Updated May 16, 2013

Study: U.S.'s Inter-Generational Mobility Limited

Nearly Half Born Poor Stay Poor;

Nearly Half Born Rich Stay Rich;

Most Born in Middle, Stay There.

Study: Fed. Reserve Bank of S.F.

A study released this month by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reports that nearly half, 44%, of American adults who are in the bottom 20% in income, were born to parents who were also in the bottom 20%; and that nearly half, 45%, of adults in the top 20%, had parents who were also in the top 20%. Most Americans who were born in the middle 60% had parents who also were in the middle 60%.

The cup of inter-generational mobility in the U.S. is thus about half full, and about half empty.

If you were born in the bottom 20%, your chances of ending up in the top 20% are about one in 20: 5%.

If you were born in the top 20%, your chances of ending up in the bottom 20% are about one in 20: 5%.

It's not entirely a hereditary aristocracy and hereditary serfs; but the circumstances, genes, and connections that a person is born with do have a marked impact in this country.

Here's the chart, from this study:

http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2013/el2013-06-2.png

2013-03-17-el2013062.png

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.