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Manual Class Counts: Education, Inequality, and the Shrinking Middle Class

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How much economic mobility you've experienced—and expect for your family—is another aspect to consider when you're thinking about income class. However, "contrary to the popular myth, economic mobility in the land of opportunity is not high, and it's going down. Essentially, IGE measures to what extent a child's income is the product of their parent's income.

Zero would mean that there's no relationship between parental income and child income, while a result of one would indicate that parental income determines child income entirely.

Executive summary

For reference, that's higher than "almost every other developed economy. What does the consolidation of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer do to someone's sense of their income class? Some of this depends on awareness. The knowledge and experience of inequality change perceptions and behavior. This awareness has different implications at different ends of the spectrum.

It is not an unfair characterization. A review of the book in The Economist summarizes their work well. When an individual feels they lack some vital resource—money, friends, time, calories—their mind operates in fundamentally distinct ways. So, the work in their book, Scarcity , would suggest that being poor changes how people think and behave. The wealthy feel some discomfort with this consolidation of wealth, too, but for different reasons.

The upward oriented "tended not even to think of themselves as socially advantaged," because they tended to hang out in economically homogenous groups, where people had as much or more money than they did. The downward-oriented, with more economically diverse social networks, were "more likely to see themselves as privileged," and felt serious discomfort about that situation.

In an op-ed for The New York Times , Sherman writes that this class "described themselves as 'normal people' who worked hard and spent prudently, distancing themselves from common stereotypes of the wealthy as ostentatious, selfish, snobby and entitled. That makes sense. No one wants to be seen as selfish, or entitled, or undeserving of wealth. Class is a complicated question.

Ross Goldstone, Education, inequality and social class - PhilPapers

It involves more than just income. It involves the cost of living, lifestyle choices, and lived experience. It consists of social and cultural capital. Most people tend to think of themselves as middle class.


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