[FoRK] New Benefits of Marriage Study Actually Hints at the Horrors of Middle Age

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Fri Jan 23 09:42:17 PST 2015

These studies are misleading. High mobility in these studies is correlated with countries that have highly compressed wage ranges; it does not indicate economic mobility in the sense that most people mean it. 

The gap between the top quintile and bottom quintile in the US is >$80k. In Denmark, it is something like $35k. These numbers are PPP terms.

In other words, a change of income (PPP) in Denmark that would be classified as “mobile" could be *doubled* in the US and it would still be considered “not mobile”. Yet in any kind of absolute sense, the US person would be much better off economically even though they are not in the top quintile. Or to put it another way, if you evaluated the Danish income mobility in the context of the US income ranges, Denmark would be among the least mobile countries in the developed world. 

Any standard for “income mobility” that tacitly defines communism as the society with the highest income mobility is not that helpful.


> On Jan 23, 2015, at 8:48 AM, Owen Byrne <ojbyrne at gmail.com> wrote:
> I thought you lived in the US.
> "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.[19]
> <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-economic_mobility_in_the_United_States#cite_note-19>
> 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."
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-economic_mobility_in_the_United_States
> On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 8:36 AM, Gregory Alan Bolcer <greg at bolcer.org>
> wrote:
>> If I truly cared about other's people's children, which I do, then I would
>> teach them personal responsibility, problem solving, a strong work ethic,
>> and personal entrepreneurship instead of teaching them to rely on free
>> stuff at the whim of others.
>> Luckily we live in a society, even at the lowest rungs of the economic
>> scale, that has extremely high economic mobility.
>> That's called teaching people to fish.
>> Greg
>> On 1/23/2015 8:30 AM, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>>> Whether that is a problem that you think needs addressed depends on
>>> whether you think the world is strictly competitive, whether you feel
>>> indirectly enriched or diminished by it, and similar philosophical
>>> motivations.  We'll take it as a given that you care for your own
>>> children and family.  Do you care about other people's children and
>>> people in general as an extended family?  Do you feel any responsibility
>>> to them?  Even if we have a lot of resources, we may feel helpless or
>>> expect waste in trying to help, or feel that other pursuits may have
>>> better society payback.  But we should consider it.  And, sometimes, the
>>> right small pushes can make a huge difference.  Sometimes it is just the
>>> right ideas in the right places that make a difference.
>>> _______________________________________________
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