Economic Mobility Report Released
Recently Pew's Economic Mobility Project released a survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies that answers key questions about how Americans view their economic mobility. The results reveal that despite the current economic crisis, a strong and uniquely American undercurrent of optimism shines through. Americans believe in their ability --- and the ability of their children --- to get ahead. Resoundingly, Americans place greater importance on ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to improve their economic standing over reducing inequality. The poll, conducted between January 27 and February 8, 2009, provides clear insights into how the American public views the factors, institutions, circumstances and values that may aid or impede their path to future economic success. In doing so, it offers valuable perspectives for elected officials, advocates and policymakers committed to ensuring that the fundamental economic bedrock of the American Dream remains solid for generations to come.
Below are some of the key findings:
Even though we are facing one of the steepest economic downturns in almost a century and about 70 percent of those polled said their personal economic situation is only fair or poor, eight-in-ten people believe that Americans can still get ahead.
Looking to the future, most parents say their own children will have a better standard of living than they have (62 percent say better, 10 percent say worse), but are split as to whether their children will have an easier or harder time moving up the income ladder (48 percent say easier, 46 percent harder).
By a 71 to 21 percent margin, Americans said that ambition, hard work and education primarily drive mobility, rather than outside forces like the state of the economy or a person's economic situation growing up.
By a 46 to 36 percent margin, Americans believe the government hurts more than helps people move up the economic ladder, but a majority say that a number of policies (like job training, early childhood education and making college more affordable) would be effective to encourage upward mobility.
The poll confirms a long-held belief that hard work and talent brings just rewards and that our society should aim to provide equality of opportunity, not to guarantee equality of outcomes.
The full survey and analysis is available at http://economicmobility.org/poll2009.