Americans are too optimistic relative to actual levels of social mobility in the country (Alesina et al, 2018). 75% of Americans believe that hard work is a very important for economic success. Only 20% thinks that a wealthy family leads to economic success (The Economist). However, the US ranks very low in social mobility when compared to other rich nations (OECD). In the US, the relationship between mean child income ranks and parent income ranks is "almost perfectly linear," even after holding for race, educational level, gender, parents marital status, and other factors (Chetty, 2014). Meanwhile, in several European countries (such as Finland and Denmark) the correlation between father and sons' earnings is lower than 20%. Basically, only several highly unequal developing countries, like Chile, have lower intergenerational mobility than the US. As American Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz (2012) points out, "America is no longer the land of opportunity.”
- Alesina, Alberto, Stefanie Stantcheva and Edoardo Teso (2018). "Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution." American Economic Review February 108: 521-54
- Chetty, Raj, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline, and Emmanuel Saez (2014). "Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States." Quarterly Journal of Economics 129(4): 1553-1623.
- Stiglitz, Joseph E. (2012). The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future. W.W. Norton & Company