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The Washington Post Thinks It Is a New Idea to Tell People to Worry About Mobility and Not Inequality

The Washington Post Thinks It Is a New Idea to Tell People to Worry About Mobility and Not Inequality

Dean Baker

Just when you thought economic commentary in the Washington Post couldn't get any more insipid, Roger Lowenstein proves otherwise. In a business section "perspective" he tells readers:

"But what if inequality is the wrong metric. Herewith a modest proposition: economic inequality is not the best yardstick. What we should be paying attention to is social mobility."


Uh, and the United States not only has high inequality. It also has low mobility. I thought that Baker would point this out. I’m surprised that he didn’t.


Mainstream Media.

Who’s mainstream?

Either writers at WaPo don’t know about Wikipedia, or they aren’t serious about reversing socioeconomic inequality in the US.

I’m betting it’s the latter.

"Several large studies of mobility in developed countries in recent years have found the US among the lowest in mobility.[3][18] One study (‘Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults?’)[18][16][25] found that of nine developed countries, the United States and United Kingdom had the lowest intergenerational vertical social mobility with about half of the advantages of having a parent with a high income passed on to the next generation. The four countries with the lowest ‘intergenerational income elasticity’, i.e. the highest social mobility, were Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Canada with less than 20% of advantages of having a high income parent passed on to their children. (see graph)[18] Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz contends that ‘Scandinavian countries changed their education systems, social policies and legal frameworks to create societies where there is a higher degree of mobility. That made their countries more into the land of opportunity that America once was.’[26]

’ If Americans want to live the American dream, they should go to Denmark. ’
— Richard G. Wilkinson at a 2011 TED conference on economic inequality.[27]
According to journalist Jason DeParle

At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent)—a country famous for its class constraints.[28] Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes. Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths.[3][29]"


"Rising inequality, although a fact, is also very hard to find a culprit for."
Say what? Hard to find a culprit for? Are they completely blind and deaf and without a functioning brain?
The major cause of inequality is very low wages for countless millions.
Put that in your economics textbooks free market extortionists. Not having enough money to live because you work full time at one or more jobs is a fabricated, intentional corruption of the extremist economic ideology that rules. No mystery here. Invisible in plain sight apparently.

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