James Surowiecki, writing in the March 3rd issue of The New Yorker, discusses social mobility. Surowiecki writes:
The economy is growing more slowly than it did in the postwar era, and average workers’ share of the pie has been shrinking. It’s no surprise that people in Washington prefer to talk about mobility rather than about this basic reality. Raising living standards for ordinary workers is hard: you need to either get wages growing or talk about things that scare politicians, like “redistribution” and “taxes.”
- Social mobility in the U.S. has be stable for fifty years.
- Mobility here is lower than in most European countries.
- Social mobility isn’t crucial to economic well being.
What is important is an adequate standard of living. It isn’t important that children of working class families move into the middle class. What is important is that the economic well being of working class and middle class Americans improves with time. What is important is that working class parents, even single parents, be be able to feed their families, provide needed health care, take vacations, and send the kids to college. That hasn’t been happening.
© William Hungerford – March 2014