Skip navigation
No more
Know more

America does not have equal opportunity, in one chart

America does not have equal opportunity, in one chart

Americans love equality of opportunity. The idea that, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can end up better than you, is pretty deeply embedded in the national psyche. It’s what the American dream’s all about.

And it doesn’t apply if you’re black. Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at NYU, has been studying trends and causes of social mobility, and finds that white children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution are twice as likely to move up to the top 80 percent as black kids. Even worse, 78 percent of black kids born into the top three fifths of the income distribution fall below it as adults. Social mobility goes *backwards*. By comparison, only 43 percent of white kids fall back that much.

The effects are still worse if you look at neighborhoods with concentrated poverty. That’s the focus of Sharkey’s current research. Click “Know More” to read his latest paper. I know that sounds like a chore, but you really should read it. It could hardly be more important.

Dylan Matthews | October 26, 2013 at 11:42 am
Know more: Neighborhoods and the black-white mobility gap.
No more
Know more
A typical Chicago city school gets half the funding of one in the wealthy suburbs
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
Max Ehrenfreund
ADVERTISEMENT
No more
Know more
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
Yes, Americans do understand that climate change is real
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
A graph that shows when it’s O.K. to date someone younger than you
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
Ebola could sicken between 77,181 and 277,124 people in 2014 if trends continue
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
Where do America’s foreign students come from?
No more
Know more
Janette Hong
No more
Know more
Which countries have the highest rates of suicide
Max Ehrenfreund
No more
Know more
Seeing music: The Moonlight Sonata, charted
Max Ehrenfreund