A fantastic report on inter-generational mobility, courtesy of researchers at UC Berkeley and Harvard and the NY Times. Some findings:

  • Whatever the reasons, affluent children often remain so: one of every three 30-year-olds who grew up in the top 1 percent of the income distribution was already making at least $100,000 in family income, according to the new study. Among adults who grew up in the bottom half of the income distribution, only one out of 25 had family income of at least $100,000 by age 30.”
  • The researchers concluded that larger tax credits for the poor and higher taxes on the affluent seemed to improve income mobility only slightly. The economists also found only modest or no correlation between mobility and the number of local colleges and their tuition rates or between mobility and the amount of extreme wealth in a region.”
  • The big news is about the geography of mobility: “Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.”

My first reaction was to suggest that areas which attract a higher proportion of immigrants were going to have better inter-generational mobility, on the theory that there’ll be a lot of catch-up income growth between 1st and 2nd generations of Americans. But I’m not sure that’s right. A few of those southeastern MSAs with terrible mobility figures do attract a fair number of immigrants.

The Harvard/UC Berkeley research group released its data, in case the NY Time’s infographics don’t do it for you.

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    But if people just work haaaaaarder they can overcome their family baaaaackground.
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    Check out http://ilyagerner.tumblr.com/post/56139847764/a-fantastic-report-on-inter-generational-mobility to see some...
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    Really want to know if the high income mobility in the Plains correlates with their massive oil rush. Separately, and...
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