Monday, February 24, 2014

The Mobility Myth And The Real Economic Goal

Social mobility has been part of American mythology for a long time.  In comparison with aristocratic Europe one's parents had less to do with one's social mobility in the US than it did in Europe.  It has been important to protect that myth by singling out individuals who overcame obstacles to rise to the top of the economic pyramid.  In reality, however, social mobility in America, and even in Sweden, is not as strong as one might imagine.  Its really important to be born to the right parents.  More importantly, however, the opportunity to move from rags to riches may not be as important as we think.  By definition the great majority of people will always belong to the middle class and to the working class.  Improving the living standard of the majority of our citizens is more important than than the opportunity for a few to strike it rich. The hallowing out of the middle class is a more important problem than maintaining the Horatio Alger myth.

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