Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking Up from the American Dream

Research Report

Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking Up from the American Dream

April 19, 2012

Abstract

A middle-class upbringing does not guarantee the same status over the course of a lifetime. A third of Americans raised in the middle class (between the 30th and 70th percentiles of the income distribution) fall out of the middle as adults. Marital status, education, test scores and drug use have a strong influence on whether a middle-class child loses economic ground as an adult. Race is a factor only for men. There is a gender gap in downward mobility from the middle, but it is driven entirely by a disparity between white men and white women.

Cross-Center Initiative

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