Economic Mobility in America, A Primer

By Dr. Scott Winship                                                                                                                                          March 20, 2017

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Economic mobility has become a leading policy concern across the political spectrum in America. But “opportunity” and “mobility” are elusive concepts. Without clearheaded thinking about what they mean and how to measure a particular way of viewing opportunity, it is easy to misinterpret the evidence on economic mobility.

The report provides an overview of the different ways of measuring both relative and absolute mobility (i.e., movement in ranks and movement in dollars). It distinguishes between mobility indicators that assess movement in different parts of the parental and child income distributions, as well as summary measures that describe how mobility does or does not reduce childhood inequalities.