01/26/2012 - The widening income gap has become a controversial issue in the United States, as liberals decry the decline of the middle class and conservatives argue that a healthy market economy must reward effort, enterprise and risk taking. But on the related issue of economic mobility, or individuals’ ability to move up the income ladder, most people appear to agree: Upward mobility is good.
Indeed, conservatives often cite economic mobility as the reason not to worry about widening income inequality. As long as people can rise, it doesn’t matter that some are very rich and others are many rungs below: Economic mobility means people are not trapped where they started.
“Recent studies suggest that there is less economic mobility in the United States than has long been presumed,” concludes a study by The Economic Mobility Project, conducted by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The American Enterprise Institute, The Brookings Institution, The Heritage Foundation and The Urban Institute. “The last 30 years have seen a considerable drop-off in median household income growth compared to earlier generations. And, by some measurements, we are actually a less mobile society than many other nations, including Canada, France, Germany and most Scandinavian countries. This challenges the notion of America as the land of opportunity.”
Read the full article, Revisiting the American Dream: Is the U.S. Providing Fewer Opportunities to Get Ahead?, on Forbes' Web site.