In The New York Times’ series on inequality in America, Columbia professor and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz recently argued that measurable social mobility in America is incongruent with the often ascribed “land of opportunity” label. Stiglitz did reference data from a reputable source (The Brookings Institution) to draw his conclusions, but his interpretation of said data is perplexing.
According to Stiglitz, “only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top.”
The word “only” in that statement is an interesting rhetorical choice. I don’t know exactly what percentage of America’s poorest children the professor thinks should be moving out of the untouchable caste, but 58% seems pretty good. And while 6% seems rather paltry when I pay sales tax on a Burger King Whopper, the fact that 6 out…
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