Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Study: In U.S., geography is destiny

Yet more evidence that bootstrapping oneself from rags to riches is pretty darn unlikely, and depends a lot on luck and accident of birth:

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”


Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.

This directly contradicts the conservative belief in the power of rugged individualism to overcome all obstacles.  But we already knew that Ragged Dick was an old fairy tale, didn't we?... 

By David Leonhardt
July 22, 2013 | New York Times

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