America, Land of Equal Opportunity? Still Not There

Lack of opportunity is a huge source of economic and social dissatisfaction. Income and wealth inequality aren’t pleasant, and many people want some redistribution, but most seem to accept that luck, drive and natural advantages inevitably create some degree of inequality. But when people feel like they don’t have a chance to move up in the world even if they try hard and do all the right things, that’s when they break out the rakes and pitchforks and storm the castle.

Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States: An Intergenerational Perspective

We study the sources of racial and ethnic disparities in income using de-identified longitudinal data covering nearly the entire U.S. population from 1989-2015. We document three sets of results. First, the intergenerational persistence of disparities …

The False Promise of Meritocracy

Americans are, compared with populations of other countries, particularly enthusiastic about the idea of meritocracy, a system that rewards merit (ability + effort) with success. Americans are more likely to believe that people are rewarded for their intelligence and skills and are less likely to believe that family wealth plays a key role in getting ahead. And Americans’ support for meritocratic principles has remained stable over the last two decades despite growing economic inequality, recessions, and the fact that there is less mobility in the United States than in most other industrialized countries.

How Equal Is American Opportunity? Survey Shows Attitudes Vary By Race

A new survey shows a majority of Americans, regardless of race, agree that race relations have worsened nationally in the past year — but on questions of equality, opinions were split between white and African-American respondents. According to a PBS Newshour/Marist Poll, a racial divide still persists on how Americans view a variety of issues, including whether blacks and whites have equal opportunities of getting hired for a job, receiving a quality education and earning equal pay for equal work.

The Other American Dream: Social Mobility, Race and Opportunity

Today, President Obama is marking the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, led by civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The March on Washington was for jobs, as well as freedom – indeed for the freedom that a job brings. Civil rights still have to be defended. Jobs have to be created and fairly allocated. But the most pernicious racial divide today is in social mobility: in the opportunity gap between a child born white, and a child born black.

Can 'Baby Bonds' Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap in Putative Post-Racial America?

Despite an enormous and persistent black-white wealth gap, the ascendant American narrative is one that proclaims that our society has transcended the racial divide. The proclamation often is coupled with the claim that remaining disparities are due …