In early December, in Osawatomie, Kan., President Obama delivered the sort of fiery populist speech his base had been demanding since the start of his administration. The speech as a whole strongly overstated the extent of economic insecurity in today’s America, but one particular claim jumped out at me — that upward mobility has declined rather sharply:
We tell people — we tell our kids — that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class. . . . And yet, over the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. You know, a few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance had fallen to around 40 percent. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a one-in-three chance of making it to the middle class — 33 percent.
Keep reading this post . . .