Home >Documents >Downward Mobility

Downward Mobility

Date post:03-Apr-2018
Category:
View:214 times
Download:0 times
Share this document with a friend
Transcript:
  • 7/28/2019 Downward Mobility

    1/36THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS ECONOMIC MOBILITY PROJECT

    Waking Up from theAmerican Dream

    By Gregory Acs

    Downward Mobilityfrom the Middle Class:

  • 7/28/2019 Downward Mobility

    2/36

    SEPTEMBER 2011

    The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve todays mostchallenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve publicpolicy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.

    By forging a broad and nonpartisan agreement on the facts, figures and trends relatedto mobility, the Economic Mobility Project is generating an active policy debate abouthow best to improve economic opportunity in the United States and to ensure that the

    American Dream is kept alive for generations that follow.

    TEAM MEMBERS

    Susan K. Urahn, Managing Director, Pew Center on the StatesErin Currier, Project Manager, Economic Mobility ProjectLauren Wechsler, Senior Associate, Economic Mobility ProjectDaniel Colbert, Administrative Assistant, Economic Mobility Project

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Gregory Acs authored this report in his previous role as Senior Fellow at the UrbanInstitute. Dr. Acs is currently Unit Chief for Income Security and Employment at theCongressional Budget Office. Scott Winship conducted extensive analyses for this reportin coordination with Dr. Acs in his previous role as Research Manager at the EconomicMobility Project. Dr. Winship is currently a Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    The Economic Mobility Project thanks all team members, Christopher Jencks, HarryHolzer, Sara McLanahan, Chris Wimer, Ianna Kachoris, Samantha Lasky, Laura Fahey,Kari Miller, Lori Metcalf, Michael Crowley and Cynthia Magnuson for providing valuablefeedback on the report. Design expertise was provided by Willie/Fetchko Graphic Design.Dr. Acs also thanks James Kaminski for his valuable research assistance.

    This report is intended for educational and informational purposes.

    For additional information on The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Economic MobilityProject, please visit www.economicmobility.org or email us at [email protected]

    All Economic Mobility Project (EMP) materials are reviewed by and guided with input from the projects Advisory Board (see inside back cover). The views expressed in this report are those of the authors, and notnecessarily those of the institutions they represent or of EMPs Advisory Board.

    September 2011 The Pew Charitable Trusts. All Rights Reserved.

    901 E Street NW, 10th Floor 2005 Market Street, Suite 1700 Washington, DC 20004 Philadelphia, PA 19103

  • 7/28/2019 Downward Mobility

    3/36

    DOWNWARD MOBILITY FROM THE MIDDLE CLASS: WAKING UP FROM THE AMERICAN DREAMiii

    Table of Contents

    Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

    Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

    Data and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

    Figure 1: Defining the Middle Class . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

    How Common is Downward Mobility from the Middle? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

    Figure 2: Chances of Downward Mobility from the Middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

    What Drives Downward Mobility from the Middle? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

    Figure 3: Additional Chance of Falling From the Middle to the BottomAssociated with Individual Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

    Figure 4: Additional Chance of Falling 20 Percentiles Below ParentalRank Associated with Individual Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

    Figure 5: Additional Chance Real Income is 20 Percent or More BelowParents Income Associated with Individual Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

    How Does Downward Mobility from the Middle Differ AcrossDemographic Groups? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

    Figure 6: Intergenerational Downward Mobility by Race and Gender:Dropping Out of Middle-Class Status . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

    Figure 7: Intergenerational Downward Mobility by Race and Gender:Income Rank 20+ Percentiles Below Parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

  • 7/28/2019 Downward Mobility

    4/36

    Figure 8: Intergenerational Downward Mobility by Race and Gender:Real Income is 20 Percent or More Below Parents Income . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

    Explaining Racial and Gender Differences in Downward Mobilityfrom the Middle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

    Table 1: Characteristics of Men and Women Who Started in theMiddle Class . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

    Figure 9: Black Mens Additional Chances of Downward Mobility VersusWhite Mens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

    Figure 10: White Womens Additional Chances of Downward Mobility Versus White Mens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

    Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

    References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

    Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

    THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTSiv

  • 7/28/2019 Downward Mobility

    5/36

    DOWNWARD MOBILITY FROM THE MIDDLE CLASS: WAKING UP FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM1

    Executive SummaryThe idea that children will grow up to bebetter off than their parents is a centralcomponent of the American Dream, andsustains American optimism. However,Downward Mobility from the Middle Class:

    Waking up from the American Dreamfindsthat a middle-class upbringing does notguarantee the same status over the courseof a lifetime.1 A third of Americans raisedin the middle classdefined here as thosebetween the 30th and 70th percentilesof the income distributionfall out of the middle as adults. The data also showdifferences in rates of downward mobility

    from the middle based on both familybackground and personal characteristics.

    The research for this report wasundertaken to answer critical questionsabout what accounts for downwardmobility from the middle class, and howthose factors influence people differentlydepending on their race and gender. Four

    main findings were identified:

    Marital status, education, test scoresand drug use have a strong influenceon whether a middle-class child loseseconomic ground as an adult.

    In this era of two-worker families, bothmen and women who are divorced,widowed or separated are more likely tolose their middle-class status, as are never-married men and women.

    Compared with married women,women who are divorced, widowedor separated are between 31 and 36percentage points more likely to falldown the economic ladder. In turn,never-married women are 16 to 19percentage points more likely to bedownwardly mobile than marriedwomen.

    Men who are divorced, widowed orseparated are 13 percentage pointsmore likely to drop out of the middleclass than are married men, and menwho have never married are 6 to 10percentage points more likely to fallthan married men.

    Men and women raised in middle-class

    homes are generally more likely to fallout of the middle if they do not obtaineducation beyond high school.

    Women with a high school diplomaor less who are raised in middle-classhomes are between 14 and 16

  • 7/28/2019 Downward Mobility

    6/36

    THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUSTS2

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    percentage points more likely to bedownwardly mobile than womenwho get a college degree.

    Men with no more than a high school

    diploma are 7 to 15 percentagepoints more likely to be downwardlymobile than men with just somepostsecondary education but nobachelors degree.

    A relatively low score on the ArmedForces Qualification Test (AFQT), whichmeasures reading comprehension, mathknowledge, arithmetic reasoning and wordknowledge, correlates with downwardmobility, as does the use of heroin or crackcocaine.

    Race is a factor in who falls out of themiddle class, but only for men.

    White, black and Hispanic womenare equally likely to experiencedownward mobility out of the middle

    class, but 38 percent of black menfall out, compared with 21 percentof white men. Hispanic men alsoappear more likely than white mento fall from the middle as adults,but the difference is not statisticallysignificant.

    There is a gender gap in downwardmobility from the middle, but it isdriven entirely by a disparity betweenwhite men and white women.

    Only among whites are women moredownwardly mobile than men: Thirtypercent of white women fall out of

    the middle class, compared with 21percent of white men. Black womenexperience less downward mobilitythan black men, and Hispanic men

    and women have nearly identicalchances of falling from the middle.

    Differences in average test scores arethe most important observable racialdifference in accounting for the largedownward mobility gap between blackmen and white men, but non

Embed Size (px)
Recommended