upward mobility

Map showing the "Predicted Income Rank at Age 26 for Children with Parents at 25th Percentile."
Harvard University and NBER

How do we break the cycle of poverty? What can we, as a state and a nation, do to help poor children escape poverty and move up and out?

Jamie Fogel is a pre-doctoral fellow with Harvard’s department of economics and a researcher on the Quality of Opportunity project that takes a close look at the effect of poverty and geography.

plastanka / Flickr

Upward mobility: the idea that, if you work hard enough, you can climb the class ladder. It's part of the American Dream, right? That you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, that you can make a better life for yourself, that your children and grandchildren will have a better life than you do.

But, the fact is, upward mobility in the U.S. is just not that easy. And, it doesn't happen nearly as much as many American believe.

As part of our The Culture of Class series, we spoke to Economics Professor Steven Haider, of Michigan State University, about why the myth of upward mobility exists and why Americans, in particular, are so apt to believe in it.

Inform our coverage: Do you believe in upward mobility?