Scott Winship, in “Mobility Impaired” (National Review, of all places) looks at upward mobility in America and the “economic inefficiency that results when much of the population is stuck at the bottom.” He notes that “evidence indicates that American children born since the 1950s have had lower educational mobility than children in Sweden and other Western nations.” In fact, “just 16 percent of those who start at the bottom but graduate from college remain stuck at the bottom, compared with 45 percent of those who fail to get a college degree. There is a legitimate debate about whether pushing academically marginal students into college will give them the same benefits that current college graduates receive, but there are surely financially constrained students who would enroll — or who would stay enrolled — if they could afford to.
Finally, remaining in the bottom is much more common among black families than white families. While much remains to be learned about why this is so, another EMP [Pew Economic Mobility Project] report starkly shows that black and white children grow up in entirely different economic worlds. Simply put, two-thirds of black children experience a level of neighborhood poverty growing up that just 6 percent of white children will ever see. That is a national tragedy. It’s certainly hard to see how the kids are to blame.