Income Mobility

WSJ notes a government study that finds news as remarkable as that college-age boys are attracted to college-age girls.  The inevitability of one arises from human nature, the other from the nature of an open market place. The obvious may be acknowledged by Lou Dobbs and John Edwards, but such an admission would interfere with provoking sufficient envy to ensure their own income – and power – mobility.

9 thoughts on “Income Mobility”

  1. One of the biggest and most persistent of big lies is the assertion or assumption that individuals in our society are members of income- or wealth-defined “classes.” In fact, personal income and wealth are highly dynamic, and a person who is defined as being at one level may be at another level in the future, and may have been at a third level in the past. Indeed this kind of personal mobility is the rule — and a good thing, because it shows there’s opportunity. Yet demagogues (who, ironically, may themselves be striking examples of upward mobility) talk about “the poor” and “the rich” as though people are as securely placed in these categories as they are in terms of their ethnicities.

  2. I’d like to know some more details about this study. I believe it was based on *family* income….so, how do they handle the case whre Jane and Jim are each making $50,000 and then they get married, so the family income for each of them goes from $50K to $100K. No one is dumb enough to measure this as a doubling of their incomes…hopefully. But I wonder how the study does handle this situation.

  3. David,

    While I assume this would not be equal to marriage, but might not some be dropping out of higher categories because of either divorce or widow/widowerhood? Surely, some of the movement out of the lower classes is probably through graduation, leaving those lower level service jobs that students take. But isn’t all this part of the dynamic?

  4. Their near religious adherence to the concept of economic classes really demonstrates the influence that European thought exerts on the American Left. Historically, income mobility in Europe was, and remains relatively, low. The American Left just assumes that the same pattern applies to America even though we have a radically different history.

    Of course, they desperately need to sell the idea of rigid income classes in order to justify their own political power. The consistent message that Leftist harp on is one of, “you can’t do it yourself, you need us in control of the government so we can help you.”

  5. Interesting. If I can play devil’s advocate for a moment, though… is that adjusted for inflation? What did stuff *cost* nine years ago? not least the rent and gas to get to work?

  6. It seems to tell us that American society is extremely mobile!

    Or, perhaps it tells us just that those who were extremely rich in 1996 tended to retire early, reducing their incomes, while those who were, say, attending Stanford Law School in 1996 and hence were very poor are now doing really well; and those who were in the middle, say, with an income of 30K ten years ago now have an income of 36K, despite the fact that they have 10 years more of experience…

    The data could reasonably be describing either situation, and the latter would mean that there isn’t actually very much mobility.

  7. The study excluded anyone under the age of 25. I don’t think there are enough people (ages 25+) in law school, med school, etc. at any given time to account for the full 5% of people who go from the bottom 1/5 to the top 1/5 of incomes. There are some, but 1/20 of the population of bottom-end wage earners? No.

    Please read over the study at least a little bit before you criticize it.

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