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Read & Share: The Decline of Upward Mobility in One Chart


Upward mobility – the ability for each new generation to climb the economic ladder and earn higher incomes than their parents.  It’s instilled in us as part of the American Dream.  However, each consecutive generation is finding it harder to make this ascent. Using data from Opportunity Insights, this graphic illustrates the decline in upward mobility over five decades.

It shows the probability that a 30-year-old American has to outearn his/her parents (vertical axis) depending on the parent’s income percentile (horizontal axis). The 1st percentile represents America’s lowest earners, while the 99th percentile the richest.

As we move from left to right on the chart, the portion of people who outearn their parents declines dramatically, suggesting that people born into upper-class families are less likely to outearn their parents, regardless of generation.

From the chart, we can conclude that the starting point of the downward trend of upward mobility has shifted to the left, i.e. fewer people in the lower- and middle-classes are climbing the economic ladder.

Source: Visual Capitalist


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Mike Mercurio | | 301-575-0332

Michael N. Mercurio is a leading attorney in the field of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He serves as outside general counsel in buy-side and sell-side M&A, as well as in all business law and real estate law matters. As a strategic partner to firm clients, Mr. Mercurio regularly counsels entrepreneurial individuals and assorted entities on the many challenges, issues, and opportunities companies face throughout the business lifecycle—from start-up to eventual exit.







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