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A New Report On American Economic Mobility

Inequality and mobility in America. We’ll look at the latest big report.

Maggie Barcellano helps her daughter, Zoe, 3, use a pepper grinder with dinner at Barcellano's father's house in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Barcellano, who lives with her father, enrolled in the food stamps program to help save up for paramedic training while she works as a home health aide and raises her daughter. Working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps, a switch from a few years ago when children and the elderly were the main recipients. (AP)

Maggie Barcellano helps her daughter, Zoe, 3, use a pepper grinder with dinner at Barcellano’s father’s house in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Barcellano, who lives with her father, enrolled in the food stamps program to help save up for paramedic training while she works as a home health aide and raises her daughter. Working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps, a switch from a few years ago when children and the elderly were the main recipients. (AP)

Movin’ on up in the world has long been understood as something like the heart of the American way.  Opportunity.  The chance to go for it.  The chance to rise.  But while income inequality has soared in this country, a big new study says American social mobility has not.  It’s the lowest in the developed world, and going nowhere.  Not worse, but not better as the rungs of the ladder grow farther apart.  Republicans and Democrats are talking about mobility now.  The President will in his State of the Union speech tonight.  This hour On Point:  measuring the real chance to rise in America.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Nathan Hendren, professor of economics at Harvard University. Co-author of the recent studies, “Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity? Recent Trends In Intergenerational Mobility?” and “Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility In the United States.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: New Data Muddle Debate on Economic Mobility — “Politicians of both parties have asserted in recent months that it has become harder for a child from a low-income family to eventually be among the highest wage earners in the country. The parties also are blaming each other as they seek solutions. Democrats say Republicans are trying to dismantle safety-net programs that help the poor, and many Republicans say social-welfare programs are only making problems worse. President Barack Obama has called economic opportunity the defining challenge of our time and is expected to make it a focus of his State of the Union address this week.”

The Atlantic: Economists: Your Parents Are More Important Than Ever — “The income of your parents matters—not just as a strong predictor for your own income (given how weak social mobility is), but also as a nudge for your life path. The kids of rich parents are 80 percent more likely to attend college than those of low-income parents. Teenage daughters of the poorest parents are 37 percent more likely to have a child than girls born in the richest decile.”

New York Times: Raise the Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour – “A $12 minimum wage is hardly extreme or ridiculous. At the 1968 height of our post-war economic prosperity, the American minimum wage was over $10.50 in current dollars, and setting the rate at $12 today would represent a real rise of merely 11 percent over a 45-year period, which seems reasonable since worker productivity has grown by over 115 percent during the same period. ”

A Conservative Call For A Higher Minimum Wage

Ron Unz, chairman of The Higher Wages Alliance. Former publisher of The American Conservative. (@unzreview)

Tyler Cowen, chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Professor of economics and author of “Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of Great Stagnation” and “An Economist Gets Lunch.” (@tylercowen)

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ONPOINT
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