The Greasy Ladder

Publication: The Economist

11/22/2007 - Some black Americans are doing very well. Barack Obama is pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. Tiger Woods is the world's best-paid athlete. Stan O'Neal was given a $160m golden parachute as he was ejected from Merrill Lynch last month. But these exceptional folk are indeed exceptional. For members of the black middle class, the news is gloomier. New research suggests that their grip on affluence is precarious.

The Economic Mobility Project, an arm of the impeccably non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts, compares contemporary Americans' family income (based on surveys conducted between 1996 and 2003) with their parents' (between 1968 and 1972). Overall, the picture is cheerful. Two-thirds of Americans who were children in 1968 and are now in their 30s or 40s enjoy higher household income than their parents did then. The same is true for black Americans. But black upward mobility consists largely of people from poor families moving up.

See full story on The Economist's site -- The Greasy Ladder.

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