A little secret Denmark shares with Canada about social mobility that Americans and Brits should know

In an article that appeared earlier this year, The New York Times described the extent to which rich parents can expect to see their children grow up to be rich adults, as well as the likelihood that the poor raise children destined for poverty.

Surprisingly enough, the article came close to concluding that if Americans are interested in living the American Dream—where family background has little influence on adult outcomes—they should move to, of all places, Denmark, or if crossing the Atlantic seems daunting, then, as a second best, to Canada.

Indeed, Denmark has been a darling of sorts ever since Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett highlighted in their book, The Spirit Level, that Danish life is so much better along a whole host of dimensions because income inequality is so much lower.

But Denmark has a little secret, one it shares with Canada, about how kids get jobs, and about how this determines life chances even in places with low inequality.

Continue reading “A little secret Denmark shares with Canada about social mobility that Americans and Brits should know”

Inequality begets inequality, according to the Economic Report of the President

On a warm evening last spring I found myself at a dinner party in the lush suburbs of a small Ivy League town not far from New York City.

The main concern of a fellow economist was the trouble his son was having raising his new family: that would be the son living in Manhattan, the one making $10 million a year.

It appears there is a bidding war for spaces in good kindergartens and, as we all know, prices skyrocket when demand outstrips supply.

And demand has been rising. We also know that.

So the most striking claim in the Economic Report of the President for 2012 is not that the share of earnings accruing to the top 1%—a share that was about 8% during the early 1980s—stands at close to 20%. After all, this is old news, the stuff of Occupy Wall Street.

Continue reading “Inequality begets inequality, according to the Economic Report of the President”