Economic Mobility in America Economic mobility is the ability of people to move up or down the economic ladder within a lifetime or from one generation to the next. It is what defines the American dream and allows us to think that we all have a chance of making it to the top. The American dream is to be successful and make a lot of money. Each generation is expected to earn more money than the previous generation. But this isn’t always true because the quintile you are born in to is, most likely, the quintile you will stay in.
It is important to have economic mobility so our economy can grow and thrive. There are two types of economic mobility, absolute mobility and relative mobility. Absolute mobility involves widespread economic growth which everyone benefits from while relative mobility is more specific to individuals and occurs unrelated to the economy as a whole. With a slow-growth economy, these income inequalities become greater and it makes it much more difficult to move from one quintile to another. When the economy is growing quickly, it is easier to move up the ladder because the incomes are much more equal.
The average American assumes that there is a high degree of economic mobility in our society and they accept it as a fact and rarely think about it. Little do they know that there is a relatively low degree of economic mobility, making it difficult to move up the economic ladder. There are many factors that can affect one’s economic mobility. Some include the income of the previous generation, gender, race, education, and marital status. If your parents are in the middle class, it is very likely that you will be in the middle class as well.
There is a relatively low chance that you will slip down to the lower class or climb up to the upper class. Although you may make more than your parents did, you will most likely be in the same quintile and class. Gender also plays a role in economic mobility. Men tend to make more than women because they tend to have the higher positions. More recently though, women have been earning more of these high paying jobs over men. There has been somewhat of a role reversal, giving women more economic opportunity and mobility.
Just as gender plays a role in economic mobility, so does race. Minorities tend to have less economic mobility and economic opportunities. Because some of their parents don’t make a lot of money, they too are destined to be in the lower quintiles and lower class. In today’s society, if you can’t afford to go to college and get a degree, there aren’t many jobs you can get to support you and your family. People with college degrees are much more likely to find a good, secure job that can support their family.
People without college degrees are frowned upon and are not expected to do big things with their lives. College degrees give people much more opportunity and allow for people to climb the economic ladder because they have higher paying jobs. Marital status is also very important when it comes to economic mobility. A married couple will have greater economic mobility than a single person because the married couple is bringing home two incomes as opposed to the one income of the single person.
The decline in marriage rates has hurt overall economic mobility because instead of having the two incomes of married couple, there is only one income making it more difficult to move up the ladder or even stay in the same class. These factors greatly contribute to overall economic mobility and play a very important role in today’s economy. Overall, economic mobility in America depends on many factors. Where you live, who your parents are, if you’re married or not, and if you’re male or female all determine your individual economic mobility.
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