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Come again?

May 20, 2008

I came across this headline while browsing through digg.com this afternoon:

The Gap Between Rich and Poor is Still Growing in the U.S.

So, deciding to dig a little further into yet another ‘Doom and Gloom’ article, I clicked through and checked out the referenced article:

Poverty Has Returned to the Public Agenda

which included this little number blurb:

A cherished piece of the American Dream – the notion that individuals have the opportunity to rise beyond their parent’s economic status – is not standing up to scrutiny. A study by the Economic Mobility Project finds that 42 percent of children born to parents in the bottom fifth of income distribution remain in the bottom, and 39 percent born to parents in the top fifth remain at the top. Steps must be taken to strengthen our economy and expand opportunities for jobs, ownership and affordable housing.

So 42 percent of kids born poor stay poor and 39 percent of kids born rich stay rich. And this means that the Gap between rich and poor is growing? That’s an interesting way to interpret the numbers.

Lets put those numbers another way. 58 percent of kids born poor are not staying poor and 61 percent of kids born rich are not staying rich. To me, that seems to describe an income gap that is shrinking, not growing so the Digg headline is misleading (shocking).

Of course the point of this blurb in the story itselfs that a majority the rich kids are not becoming richer than their parents (A cherished piece of the American Dream – the notion that individuals have the opportunity to rise beyond their parent’s economic status – is not standing up to scrutiny). So am I reading this right? The rich aren’t getting richer… and thats now a bad thing? Haven’t they been beating the mantra ‘the rich get richer while the poor get poorer’ into our heads?

Well? Which way do you want it?

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One Comment
  1. 58% rise of those bottom fifth rise up. Not bad in my book. I am a little surprised that so many rich drop down.

    Definitely an nteresting twist on numbers though.

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