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Incarceration and Mobility: One Pretty Big Reason We’re Not Denmark

Catherine Rampell suggests that people are more likely to achieve the American Dream if they move to Denmark, drawing on data from the Pew Economic Mobility Project. This is as good a time as any to repost a link to Scott Winship’s “Mobility Impaired,” which addresses a number of misconceptions regarding economic mobility. Scott served as research manager at the Pew Economic Mobility Project until taking a position at Brookings.


I’ll also note that for some people, the ability to protect your children against negative economic shocks over the life course is seen as very valuable. That is, providing for your children and leaving them a legacy (in the form of a wealth endowment, yes, but also in the form of valuable cognitive and noncognitive skills) is part and parcel of the American Dream. Education, for example, is often understood as a kind of insurance, a hedge against economic shifts that could lead to the devaluation of certain skills. The central fact about mobility in the U.S. is that the bottom is fairly sticky. 

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Economic Mobility Project

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