50 Years On: Protecting Opportunity for All Americans
- August 28, 2013
"Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country, in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.
And so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago...was not, and never has been, whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many -- for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call -- this remains our great unfinished business."
—President Barack Obama
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, President Barack Obama spoke at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. His speech addressed a similar theme as the 1963 march, "Jobs and Justice ,'' and argued that Americans must promote and protect opportunities for anyone working to reach the middle class.
Data from Pew's economic mobility project
- Income and wealth in America across generations: This interactive provides a unique way to analyze absolute mobility in America and explore the specific effects of education level, race, and number of earners in a household.
- Economic mobility and the American Dream: This video explains the difference between absolute and relative mobility.
- A chartbook of economic mobility across generations: Measuring the health and status of the American Dream presents a mixed picture. Although a majority of Americans exceed their parents’ family income and wealth, the extent of absolute mobility gains is not always enough to move all groups up the economic ladder. (See graphic.)
- The effects of race and income on how families navigate unemployment shocks: Low-income families, African-Americans, and Hispanics experience greater risk of job loss and have the least access to resources to buffer the negative effects of unemployment spells.
- Enhancing economic mobility in America: This report recommends that the federal government encourage policies and promote activities that help more Americans experience upward mobility.
- Neighborhoods and the black-white mobility gap: The economic mobility project’s research demonstrates a striking mobility gap between blacks and whites. This report examined one factor: the impact of neighborhood poverty rates experienced during childhood.
- Americans’ prospects for recovery after an income loss.
"One of our most powerful findings has been the striking mobility gap between blacks and whites in the U.S. The ideal of the American Dream is complex, and we see that the ability to achieve it is deeply affected by race."
—Erin Currier, director, Pew’s economic mobility project
Additional research from the Pew Research Center
- King's dream remains elusive; many Americans see racial disparities: The Pew Research Center finds that fewer than half of Americans say the country has made substantial progress toward racial equality, and about the same share say "a lot more" remains to be done.