10/16/2011 - A specter haunts America: downward mobility. Every generation, we believe, should live better than its predecessor. By and large, Americans still embrace that promise. A Pew survey earlier this year found that 48 percent of respondents felt that their children’s living standards would exceed their own. Although that’s down from 61 percent in 2002, it’s on a par with the mid-1990s. But these expectations could be dashed. For young Americans, the future could be dimmer.
Along with jobs, the 2012 presidential election could be fought over this issue. “Can the Middle Class Be Saved?” worried a recent cover story in the Atlantic. Pessimism rises with schooling. In the Pew poll, 54 percent of respondents with a high-school diploma or less felt their children would do better; only 35 percent of graduate school alums agreed. “A kind of depression has set in,” writes Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. “We’ve lost our mojo, our groove.”
Read the Op Ed Why Our Children’s Future No Longer Looks So Bright in its entirety on the Washington Post Web site.