American Exceptionalism #238: Opportunity (Not)

I don’t usually link to Paul Krugman because he everyone reads him anyway, right? He doesn’t need my google juice.

But I have to make an exception here because he adds to my trove of graphs demonstrating how America today — after thirty years of Reaganomics policies that were supposed to be all about freedom, liberty, and economic opportunity for all (yeah, and I have a bridge for sale), is at the bottom of the heap when it comes to economic opportunity.

The shining city on the hill keeps getting smaller and richer, and the slopes leading up to it steeper, rougher, and slicker.

That opportunity is best displayed through intergenerational mobility — what my friend Steve calls “convection.” What are the odds that a child will be in a different economic stratum from his parents? It’s a darned good measure of “meritocracy.”

Here’s the key graphic:


On the vertical axis is the intergenerational elasticity of income — how much a 1 percent rise in your father’s income affects your expected income; the higher this number, the lower is social mobility.

As you can see, it’s only getting worse. My explanation is here.

The Great Gatsby Curve –

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.