Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Americans pride themselves on their
intergenerational mobility. Our nation’s exceptionalism is
organized around the American dream: No matter where you come
from and no matter who your parents are, you can rise to the top
of the economic ladder, so long as you are willing to commit
yourself and work hard.
In recent years, however, a great deal of comparative
research has been done on intergenerational mobility, and it
raises legitimate questions about the claim that the U.S. stands
out as a land of opportunity. In 2006, a widely reported study
found that in terms of intergenerational mobility, the U.S.
lagged behind Nordic nations (including Denmark, Finland, Sweden
and Norway) as well as the U.K. For example, Danish men born to
households in that nation’s bottom quintile are far more likely
than their U.S. counterparts to make it to the higher quintiles.