Report

Getting Ahead or Losing Ground

Economic Mobility in America

Getting Ahead or Losing Ground
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This February 2008 report, authored by a team of scholars at the Brookings Institution, was one in a series of major research products that aimed to further enlighten the public dialogue on economic opportunity

Growing income inequality and slower economic growth suggest that now is an important moment to review the facts about opportunity and mobility in America and to attempt to answer the basic question: Is the American Dream alive and well?

This 2008 report, Getting Ahead or Losing Ground, authored by a team of scholars at the Brookings Institution, was one in a series of major research products that aimed to further enlighten the public dialogue on economic opportunity.  While it offered reassuring findings in some areas, in many others there was room for concern. By arming the public and policy makers with facts about the status of opportunity in America today, this report sought to stimulate and frame the debate about which policies are likely to be most effective in ensuring that the American Dream endures for the next century.

Many Americans are even unconcerned about the historically high degree of economic inequality that exists in the United States today perhaps because they believe that big income gaps between the rich and the poor and, increasingly, between the rich and the middle class, are offset by a high degree of economic mobility. Economic inequality, in this view, is a fact of life and not all that disturbing as long as there is constant movement out of the bottom and a fair shot at making it to the top.  In short, much of what the public believes about the fairness of the American economy is dependent on the generally accepted notion that there is a high degree of social and economic mobility.

 

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