In America, if you’re ambitious and work hard, you can move up the socioeconomic ladder. At least, that’s the truism we all grew up believing.
But new research suggests such social mobility is far from the norm. It finds you are significantly more likely to hold a high-status (which usually means higher-paying) job if your parents held similarly prestigious positions.
“Your circumstances at birth—specifically, what your parents do for a living—are an even bigger factor in how far you get in life than we had previously realized,” Michael Hout, the New York University sociologist who conducted the study, said in announcing the results. “Generations of Americans considered the United States to be a land of opportunity. This research raises some sobering questions about that image.”
Hout utilized data on 20,856 Americans who participated in the General Social Survey between 1994 and 2016. The occupations of participants and their parents were ranked by “social standing” on a 100-point socioeconomic index, ranging from physician (93 points) to flight attendant (53) to shoe shiner (nine)….