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
NASA’s touching tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
What do colors really look like to colorblind people?
Ana Swanson
ADVERTISEMENT
No more
Know more
The college majors with the highest unemployment rates
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
If the planets were fruit
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Chart: The rise in America’s biracial population
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Map: The parts of the world where time is most often wrong
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Everyone wants a dragon baby: The effect of the Chinese zodiac on births
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Hand strength in Texas hold’em, visualized
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
An amazing 2D timeline charts 100 stories of the past and future
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
American kids are still the fattest, but the rest of the world is catching up
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The worst state for identity theft is pretty much what you’d expect
Ana Swanson